Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra • Fairy Tales • The Shins • Flatliners • PMMA • Ares Kingdom • Feist
Editor’s Note/Pulse 4
Bedroom Eyes 7
Edmonton Extra 28-30
Book Of Bridge 32
Letters From Winnipeg 33
This Month in Metal 43
Savage Love 54
The Rumble 16-17
Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Theatre
FairyTales Film Festival, Ice Blue, Sensitive
Parts, Animation Lockdown
Tom of Finland
plays at The Plaza
Friday, May 26
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Shins, The Flatliners, Comeback Kid,
PMMA, Child Actress, Jojo, Ultrviolence,
Transit 22, Sellout, CJ Ramone, Wyldlyfe
Bwana, Eats Everything
BluesCool, Gregory Alan Isakov,
Ares Kingdom, Cro-Mags, Mind Mold
Feist and much more ...
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
We distribute our publication in Calgary, Edmonton, Banff, Canmore, and Lethbridge.
SARGE Distribution in Edmonton – Shane Bennett (780) 953-8423
Connect with BeatRoute.ca
Copyright © BEATROUTE Magazine 2017
BEATROUTE • MAY 2017 | 3
DIXIE LONGATE, the fast-talking Tupperware
Lady, packed up her catalogues and
took Off-Broadway and the United States
by storm! Join Dixie as she travels the
country throwing good ol’fashioned Tupperware
Parties filled with outrageously
funny tales, heartfelt accounts,FREE
giveaways, audience participation and the
most fabulous assortment of Tupperware
ever sold on a theater stage. Loaded with
the most up-to-date products available
for purchase, see for yourself how Ms.
Longate became a member of the illustrious
“#1 Tupperware Seller in the World”
Club, as she educates her guests on the
many alternative uses she has discovered
for her plastic products!
VEG SPEED DATE
This isn’t your typical speed dating. Veg Speed Date is exclusively
for vegan and vegetarian singles across North America — a unique
vegan/vegetarian speed dating concept refined five years in San
Francisco. The speed dating events are limited to 30 participants,
because we’ve found that an intimate, get-to-really-know-you
setting works the best for making real connections. Three out of
four participants find matches at their first Veg Speed Date event.
We make sure there’s an equal number of men and women – or
very close to it. There will never be a Veg Speed Date event with 25
women and five men!
Sunday, May 28 3-5pm
WHEN ONE DOOR CLOSES
Sexy and kooky, thought-provoking and joyful, When One Door
Closes invites you into a world of unhinged madness, as three heroines
of turn-of-the-century drama, Miss Julie, Hedda Gabler and
Nora meet in the visceral force of extreme acrobatic theatre.
Since 2004 CIRCA has been at the frontier of new circus,
creating powerful works of circus art that challenges, delights
and thrills, while pushing the boundaries of the art-form. Their
award-winning and unique works have been seen in 39 countries
across six continents. Australia’s CIRCA and La Boîte return to
Theatre Junction GRAND for the third time with the Canadian
premiere of When One Door Closes from May 9 - May 13, 2017.
HOLLYWOOD BEAUTY SALON
Mental Film Festival kicks off its second
annual mental health-inspired film and
art showcase with the Alberta premiere of
Hollywood Beauty Salon, from award-winning
director Glenn Holsten.
Hollywood Beauty Salon is an uncommon
portrait of everyday events in a small
beauty parlour in Philadelphia, where staff
and clients of the salon can share stories
and find support. In a journey spanning
four years, filmmaker Glenn Holsten allows
each participant to relate their life story in
their own chosen way, creating a unique,
hybrid documentary incorporating animation
and musical performances. Happy and
painful memories unfold on the path to
recovery and hope for the future.
Established in 2015, Mental Film Festival
was founded by a broad scope of community
leaders including Alberta Psychiatric
Nurse of the Year Patricia Dribnenki-Pennock,
eager to create an art-centric platform
to initiate conversation surrounding
mental health. With the Canadian Mental
Health Association reporting that 20% of
Canadians personally experience a mental
illness in their lifetime, Mental plays an
important role in helping to reduce stigma
and ignite conversation in an inclusive
atmosphere that allows people from all
backgrounds to share unique perspectives.
“Art and film are powerful tools to cut
through social issues and create meaningful
dialog. We want to inspire Calgarians
to talk about mental health in a new way,”
says festival director Natalie Noble.
The single-day festival, adopting a
pay-what-you-can model, takes place
on Saturday June 3, 2017 from 5 pm
to 9 pm at the Globe Cinema. A panel
featuring mental health professionals and
individuals with lived experience will take
place after the film.
4 | MAY 2017 • BEATROUTE
FOR LOVERS AND FIGHTERS
Fairy Tales Queer Film Festival May 18-27
Fairy Tales Queer Film Fest staffers
Clockwise: James Demers, Mel Dinis, Erin Jenkins, Kennedy Enns
BEATROUTE • MAY 2017 | 7
meet the red velvet-clad 27-year-old at the helm of the CPO
by Mathew Silver
“I’m only 27, so I still enjoy going out for a beer. I don’t know if I’ve
been caught dancing shirtless at a nightclub just yet, but it’s only my
first year here so anything could happen.”
But surely, being the conductor of a world-class orchestra at 27
must lead to some interesting conversations when you’re out on the
town… right? Apparently not.
“I actually hate telling people I’m a conductor, because it’s so awkward.
I usually just tell people I’m a musician, but of course that inevitably
leads to ‘Oh what do you play?’ I think it’s a bit ostentatious to
say ‘Oh yeah, I’m an orchestral conductor.’” Because for Hirzer, it goes
much deeper than that.
“I don’t feel at the end of the day having this job defines me as
a person. And there is something about being a conductor, even
if you’re talking to someone who’s not a musician, that establishes
a bit of a barrier. Being a conductor is sometimes a very isolating
A conductor with an ear for classical, Kendrick Lamar and Radiohead.
I’m awaiting the arrival of Karl Hirzer, the 27-year-old Resident
Conductor of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, in a boardroom
tucked at the back of the CPO’s offices on 8th Avenue. Hirzer is a
sex symbol from a bygone era, a time when conductors were rock
stars and live orchestral performances were considered popular entertainment.
He struts the stage in plush designer suits, flips his hair
as he leads a group of musicians much older than himself, and does it
all with an air of grace and quiet confidence. So I sit and wait for the
boyish-looking wunderkind to arrive.
The room is quiet, but for the sound of construction thrumming
outside the windows at approx. 1 pm on an otherwise dreary day in
downtown Calgary. The weather is caught somewhere between snow
and rain, and I’m caught somewhere between jealousy and admiration
as Karl strolls into the room.
He’s dressed smartly, and looks remarkably cosmopolitan toting
an umbrella and an up-market coffee as he reaches to shake my
hand. Hirzer’s face is youthful and thin, which makes him look closer
to 18, and seems to further belie his brilliance as a conductor and
performer. A jackhammer chips away at a block of concrete somewhere
outside the building as we begin the interview.
Despite the fact that neither of his parents were musicians,
Hirzer says his foray into music began early: “There’s an old home
video of my dad going through the apartment. Then he goes into
the bedroom and I’m lying there as a baby in this little crib, and
there’s a recording of Beethoven’s Appassionata sonata playing in
At just the age of five, the native of New Westminster, B.C. started
making “nonsense compositions” on an upright grand piano that his
parents bought, but he denies showing any type of prodigious talent
from an early age. It should be noted that Hirzer is often self-effacing,
which makes me wonder if he’s just being modest.
He continued to play piano through high school, earning his ARCT
diploma from the Toronto Royal Conservatory of Music at 17 years
old – the highest academic standing you can achieve from the institution.
In Grade 12, he used two spare blocks so he could practice
piano for at least two hours, and often more in the afternoon. In his
senior year at the University of Victoria, he travelled to Salzburg in
Austria to study under one of the world’s most prominent living Mozart
scholars, Robert Levin. It was his experience abroad that made
him want to pursue music fully.
“The more that I learned about it and the more that I became
engulfed in it, the more I became obsessed with it. It got to the stage
where I realized this was something I could really devote my life to,”
It strikes me that Hirzer is somewhat of a renaissance man. His
eyes flitter intelligently behind his glasses, and he speaks with the
tact of an upper-level English professor. He also has the ability to
transition from a conversation about obscure Russian composers
to the cultural staying power of Kendrick Lamar, which hints at the
reason why the CPO hired him in the first place – he’s young and
smart and cool.
According to Paul Dornian, the President & CEO of the CPO,
Hirzer was also qualified.
“When we choose a Resident Conductor we are always looking for
the someone who we feel has the most talent - not necessarily the
strongest resume. Karl stood out amongst stiff competition because
of his natural musicianship, intelligence and poise. He’s young, but
he’s definitely got the goods,” says Dornian.
And that might be a bit of an understatement. He’s got “the
goods” and then some, but Hirzer remains coy when asked about his
status as an anachronistic rock star.
“It’s interesting thinking about the idea of conductor as rock star…
the British conductor Colin Davis very humbly and very appropriately
once said, ‘You can never forget you don’t play one note.’ In that
sense, it’s a very collaborative effort.”
Hirzer tells a story about Leonard “Lenny” Bernstein, a rock star and
socialite, and also one of the great conductors of the 20th Century. Apparently,
Lenny would conduct a performance with the New York Philharmonic
in the evening, and be found later at a nightclub going crazy
on the dance floor wearing a leather jacket and nothing underneath.
Hirzer, much to my chagrin, says he’s yet to have his ‘Lenny’ moment
at a local watering-hole.
“I’m only 27, so I still
enjoy going out for a beer.
I don’t know if I’ve been
caught dancing shirtless
at a nightclub just yet.”
There are perks, of course, like having his own personal couturier –
otherwise known as a personal tailor-designer (with an exotic-sounding
last name that Hirzer can hardly pronounce) – and the odd
wine-soaked dinner with the CPO’s generous patron donors. “I have a
red velvet tuxedo. It’s pretty snazzy,” he says, sort of laughing at how
ridiculous it all sounds.
He’s also had the opportunity to collaborate with some of the
world’s best artists. When the Second City Comedy troupe came to
Calgary, Hirzer got to act alongside the legendary Colin Mochrie.
“Even just to meet this guy I grew up watching on Whose Line Is It
Anyway?, but to act on stage and do all this shtick was pretty cool…
It’s amazing to be on this level playing field with people who seemed
sort of untouchable before I got here.”
As for his future, Hirzer doesn’t have any solid plans. He says that
in the music business you mostly go where the work is. After all, high
calibre musicians don’t just move to a place like Calgary and decide
to audition for the orchestra. But for now he’s eager to learn more
from all of the talented conductors and musicians that pass through
the CPO. As for the future of classical music, he’s got a unique and
“Mozart’s music is going to be just as popular 50 years from now
as it is today. But I’m curious to see what people will think of bands
like Radiohead in that same time frame… This is music that’s already
survived incredible transformations in history and in human culture
and identity. I think it’s going to be here for a while.”
I exit the building that houses the CPO, walking under the scaffolding
and past the construction toward my Uber on 1st Street. As
the Toyota Camry begins to roll down the block, the incessant and
frankly annoying construction-like noises begin to recede.
Catch Karl Hirzer anytime the CPO performs. There aren’t many
conductors like him.
8 | MAY 2017 • BEATROUTE CITY
where discretion and flavour become symphony
by Colin Gallant
Model Citizen’s door lies on 17th Avenue between 2 and 4 St. Despite the high traffic, you’d be
excused for missing it.
The lowkey nature of their modus operandi means an unmarked door, an intimidating set
of steps and a blackout curtain available to the host as necessary. There’s only an exterior bulb to clue you
in—lit (so to speak) when they’re open, extinguished when it’s time to run along. But don’t take it personally:
Model Citizen is a venture by the operators of Model Milk and Pigeonhole, two establishments
that top the lists of Calgary’s elite dining and gulping outposts. Both are readily marked and provide the
same caliber of offerings.
On to the matter at hand: Model Citizen served this writer the best beverage he’s ever tasted. In a
haze of dim light, AM disco and hushed revelry brought on by fearsome but thoughtful spirits, the Yung
Nordic cocktail shone through to take the throne of the evening.
Concocted in collaboration between Model Citizen and pop-up prodigies Sugarwater, the Yung
Nordic is a youthful take on exoticism, flavor balance and Millenial chic. Like confectionary meets oil of
oregano, the devilish akvavit (most easily described as a Scandinavian, gin-like hardsauce derived from
caraway and fennel) and tangy beet juice leave the taste buds feeling as if they’ve short-circuited a cotton
candy machine plugged into a greenhouse. It’s as much an intoxicant as an invigorator, a flirtatiously dangerous
paradox. For the sake of the beverage’s proprietary dignity, some ingredients have been omitted
from this description.
No other cocktail, be it a Sugarwater disruption or homegrown remedy, was wanting for delight on the
night BeatRoute visited. That said, Model Citizen is a volatile place to have a drink in that it reserves the right to
play a form of 52 Pickup at its whim; its current menu isn’t the point, rather, the ingenuity of offerings is.
All of the above could be true and still remain inconsequential if a patron were to feel rebuffed. We’re
pleased to report that on this visit, and several prior to this occasion, BeatRoute has received nothing
short of attentive, personalized service at Model Citizen. Having witnessed the host show patience in the
face of a squadron of jersey-clad Chads, servers take significant moments to linger with chatty tables, and
bartenders labour over their work while keeping it social, a certain feeling was created in the room that has
yet to leave us. We hope to return soon.
Model Citizen is open Thursday-Saturday at 300 17th Ave. SW. Disco masters Kinfolk are there every Friday, and
the cocktails change when they damn well feel like it. The 50-seat establishment is prime for a small party and
accessible to larger groups through its website.
BEATROUTE • MAY 2017 | 9
dancing with architecture
Photo: Brewster Travel Canada
Each year more than two million visitors pass through Jasper National
Park seeking to embrace the Rocky Mountains’ majestic
beauty and the spectacular sprawl of the Columbia Icefields.
While some travellers park their vehicles to explore hiking trails or
climb aboard oversized, off-road tour buses (Brewster’s giant Ice Explorers
which roam the glacial valleys), the vast majority of sightseers
prefer to enjoy the Rockies from the viewpoint of staying comfortably
strapped in their SUVs. To radically enhance the mountain
experience, Parks Canada initiated the idea of what would become
the Glacier Skywalk.
In 2010 Brewster Travel Canada took on the challenge of building
a Glacial Discovery Walk (the original project name), which was similar
to the glass-floored observation decks in Dubai and the Grand
Canyon. Brewster put out a proposal that required an integrated
team of architects, engineering and construction specialists. PCL
Construction Management along with RJC Engineers and Sturgess
Architecture were awarded the contract.
In a new book about the design and making of the Glacier
Skywalk, Calgary-based, award-winning architect, Jeremy Sturgess
claims, “The scenography, the choreography of the visitor experience
is the core reason our proposal won the competition.” Speaking
with Sturgess directly, he elaborates on the visitor experience
referring to the “journey” of the Skywalk, which strives for a deeper
appreciation and personal connection to the region, its peaks,
valleys and vistas.
Although his firm won the contract for their creative approach to
integrate the traveller with the landscape, Sturgess admits he’s not
a mountain person per se, but more of a “city guy” who’s quite “intimated
by the mountains, in awe of them.” Because of that stranger in
a strange land relationship, he was compelled when developing the
design to “step out of convention, out of your comfort zone, and toy
with things that you might only dream about.” In addition, he was
motivated “not only to make the Skywalk a remarkable experience,
but also the journey to the Skywalk remarkable.”
The Skywalk is compromised of six different “pavilions” along a
stretch of pathway embedded on a steep slope that runs parallel to
the Columbia Icefields’ Parkway:
• The first pavilion is the arrival Kiosk where Brewster buses drop
• Next is the Viewpoint, a “simplified miniature” of the Skywalk
itself that juts off the path looking over the Sunwapta Valley.
• Then there’s the Cave allowing visitors to step out of pedestrian
traffic under a covered shelter that has geologic information about
the surrounding area.
• Prior to the Skywalk Bridge is the Gateway, another informative
stop-over with small panel displays about the local wildlife.
•Then the Skywalk itself that arcs over the vast Sunwapta Valley
and its dramatic scenery. The nose of the Skywalk contains the
glass-covered deck for real thrill-seekers, then a walkway with a
steel-plated floor that cuts across the arc dubbed the “chicken walk”
for those less adventureous.
• Rounding out the journey is the Amphitheatre: a social pit-stop
after the Skywalk stroll where visitors congregate, decompress and
filter through their emotions coming down from the adrenalin rush.
“The journey,” says Sturgess, “is a whole litany of experiences
from when you get off the bus to the Skywalk. And then the
denouement with the Amphitheatre, which, from my perspective,
really affords for the first time a conversation with someone you
hadn’t met before because you’re in respite from an experience
you’re in awe or exhaustion or reflection of. The Amphitheatre
gives you that opportunity to maybe meet somebody from somewhere
else in the world that you wouldn’t normally meet. And to
me that’s as important that’s as important as the (Glacial Skywalk)
In summary, Sturgess offers an analogy to the “choreography” of
the Skywalk explaining it as “something very musical that builds up
to a crescendo that then recedes into how your memory takes over
and allows you reflect on the experience.”
Glacial Skywalk, written by Sturgess along with architectural critic
Trevor Boddy and author Clea Sturgess, is a journey unto itself.
Definitely not a “coffee table book” as Sturgess aptly points out, but a
comprehensive, astounding visual presentation of the concept, design
and making of the Skywalk that captures this stunning achievement in
its glorious environment.
10 | MAY 2017 • BEATROUTE CITY
FAIRY TALES QUEER FILM FESTIVAL
In conversation with James Demers, FT’s Executive Director and Programmer, about the festival’s evolution and diversity
by Colin Gallant and Kennedy Enns
TWO SPIRIT THE UNICORN LEATHER BEAR BUTCH ROBYN HOOD SASSY WISE MERMAID DRAG QUEEN FAIRY
Fairy Tales’ six characters. What
are they, why are they important?
The name Fairy Tales has always elicited a wide variety of responses,
from humour and sass, to reservations and an involuntary bristle. The
choice to take a word like “fairy,” which has a history of derogatory use
again LGBTQ+ people, and turn it into a tongue in cheek reclamation
was a bold move as much then as it is now. The historic habit of the
reclamation of language within the queer community, has always
presented a challenge for how individuals and organizations in the
community communicate our identity to a larger world. With the
development of subgroups and the fluid exploration of hyper specific
self-identifiers, our community is often evolving as it grows.
Media representation of LGBTQ+ people has been at the forefront
of queer film festivals since the emergence of “new queer cinema” in
the early ‘90s. When the common representation of our community
was falling into narrow categories of victims or villains, queer film
festivals sought to present work which re-wrote that narrative in
the attempt to develop reflections of ourselves on the silver screen.
Politically, the progress we’ve seen in the last 20 years is remarkable.
And the simple act of telling our stories to develop common ground
and empathy has had a massive effect on our representation in North
American popular culture.
We now see queer characters represented in a variety of viewing
formats, prime time TV, Netflix, and web series, which have massively
expanded the depictions the community many members of which
were or still are, traditionally underrepresented in mainstream media.
This kind of representation has expanded the conversations taking
place in all our institutions ranging from trans issues to preventive
public health initiatives and long over due conversations about racial
integration and intersectionality. A ee thanks to our Illustrator Helen
Young who made these come to life.
Our Two Spirit character was developed in collaboration with
members of the indigenous community. An extra special thanks to
Chantal Chagnon, our artistic collaborator and Evans Yellow Old
Woman our community collaborator, for their extensive work in
helping us develop this figure. This character was born out of a desire
to be inclusive of Indigenous storytelling and ways of knowing and
being, which is often absent from popular queer cultural representation
in Canada. The process of listening and working with this
community was hugely important and we thank you for sharing your
experiences with us.
The Unicorn has become in recent years a representation for those who
fall outside of traditional acronyms and are forging a new understanding of
gender and sexuality across the spectrum.
The Leather Bear pays humorous reference to the kinkier sides a community
who have been at the forefront of both the movement for expanded
access to sexual health services and education across the spectrum.
Our Butch Robyn Hood tackles heroic challenges women still face in
the world today in accessing equal pay and basic health care and also
the traditionally narrows view of gender that women are saddled with in
Our Sassy Wise Mermaid is here to represent both the wisdom present
in our community and address the lack of body positive characters in
Our Drag Queen Fairy makes reference to one of the oldest forms of
classic queer performance and feminine masculinity.
The Youth Queer Media Program:
Tell us why it’s special.
The Youth Queer Media Program is the only current queer youth
film program on the prairies. Growing out of its inception as an
Anti-Homophobia PSA project we have expanded to include a
hug variety of experiences and way of telling stories. The stories
here capture a moment and a generation in ways which are often
surprising and dynamic. This year the stories range from the details
of disrupted family dynamics to experiential indigenous film and a
short horror movie. Youth often create animations, music and set
designs for their films bringing multiple talents to the screen. We
have a very strong partner in EMMEDIA who had been our production
lead since the beginning of the program.
Regarding Kink Night, what
would you say to someone who
is curious but has never been?
This kink party is perfect for those who are new to the scene, they
will get the opportunity to see professional demos of a variety of
types of play, ask questions, and meet great people in the community.
We’re thrilled to partner with both Torch Motorcycles
and The Calgary Centre of Sex Positive Culture who offer events
all year round in a safe and well-managed play spaces. This is a
great way to introduce yourself or a partner to the dynamics of
consensual power play.
Tell us a bit about the galas
and non-theatre experiences
available to festival-goers.
May 25th at 9pm We are really excited to bring back a spoken word
event we premiered last year in partnership with the Coming Out
Monologues called Queer a Folks Read Things They Wrote in the
Closet. This is an opportunity for community members to share
love letters, youthful poetry, and angsty musings. This event involves
a lot of empathy over the missteps of youth, you’ll laugh and
cry at surprising moments, and its event open to everyone.
After every single film in the festival this year we will be hosting
a “Programmers Corner” at The Naked Leaf tea shop. This will
give festival goes the chance to talk with the programming committee,
directors and special guests about the film selection and
content. This is a great way to get insight into he development of
the festival and the media representation circulation around the
On the 27th at 9pm we will be hosting our first mystery film,
this film screening is for festival pass holders, special guests and
volunteers only, it will not be announced until it premieres that
night of. It’s a great reason to get your festival pass early.
The 20th anniversary is up
next. Will we see any hints of
what’s in store during this year’s
We do have some exciting things in the works for our 20th year,
particularly some exciting local content. Stay tunes for our 2017
pride programming, we’ll be doing some exciting project through
some new partnerships.
12 | MAY 2017 • BEATROUTE FILM
FAIRY TALES PROGRAMMER’S CHOICE
BEST FEATURE FILM
SATURDAY, MAY 20
SATURDAY, MAY 27
GLORIA AND GRACE
Graça is a single mother who works as a massage therapist and lives with
her two children: Moreno, 8, and Papoula, 15. One day, in a visit to the
doctor, Graça is diagnosed with a brain aneurism that may rupture at
any moment. Desperate about who will take care of her kids in the event
of her death, she decides to go after her brother, Luiz Carlos, whom she
hasn’t seen in over 15 years due to a quarrel. When they meet, however,
Luiz Carlos has become Gloria, a beautiful and successful transvestite,
who now owns a restaurant and brags about being independent. At first,
Gloria is unwilling to reconnect with her family; but as she becomes more
guilt-stricken, she accepts Graça’s invitation to meet her nephews and
realizes that maybe, to be complete, she needs to become a mother.
Sparks fly when Violet (Jennifer Tilly) sets eyes on Corky (Gina Gershon)
in an elevator. Violet is the girlfriend of a violent gangster, Caesar (Joe
Pantoliano), while Corky is fresh out of prison and doing renovations on
the apartment next door. As the two women launch into a passionate
love affair, they assemble an intricate plan for Violet to escape from
Caesar, with two million dollars of the mob’s money but the important
part is to make it out alive.
GLAAD Media Awards 1997 Outstanding Film Award
MTV Movie Award 1997 Best Kiss
GIRL ON GIRL
Girl on Girl highlights the emotional consequences of feminine
lesbian invisibility— the phenomena in which, due to their feminine
or “passing” appearance, countless LGBTQ women are rendered invisible
and assumed to be straight by the outside world and to each
other. This concept has heretofore been widely overlooked in LGBTQ
media. The cast is made up of women who challenge assumptions of
what society imagines a lesbian to look like and offer fundamentally
different narratives of how invisibility has impacted their lives. Each
story intimately reveals that coming out on a daily basis is a repetitive
act, not a one-time proclamation.
Sunday Monday Wednesday
MAY 21 MAY 22 MAY 24
ASEXUAL: A LOVE STORY
TIES THAT BIND
TWO SOFT THINGS,
TO HARD THINGS
GIRL ON GIRL
DRAG KING TROUP
GLORIA & GRACE
& MYSTERY FILM
STAY CONNECTED! Like us on facebook (Fairy Tales Queer Film Festival)
& follow us on Twitter: #fairytalesYYC, Instagram
BEATROUTE • MAY 2017 | 13
female film director takes charge
It’s a surprising fact, but there hasn’t been a
feature film made in Alberta by a female director
in up to fifteen years. That is, until now. Ice Blue,
directed by Sandi Somers and co-written by Jason
Long (Chokeslam), is the first film to kickstart
what producer Scott Lepp hopes will be an upward
trend in female directors in the industry.
Ice Blue, summarized as a “supernatural drama”
by Lepp, is about a 16-year-old girl, Arielle, who lives
a normal life on a secluded foothills farm with her
seemingly perfect father. The mother has been out
of the picture for ten years. Growing tired of wondering
what happened to her, Arielle decides she
wants to find her. Consequently, the mother mysteriously
reappears back into their lives and drives a
wedge in between the established father-daughter
relationship which unwinds a plethora of secrets
over the course of the film.
“So, it has supernatural elements to it?” we ask.
“Yeah,” laughs Lepp. “We always say that. It’s more
drama than anything but the audience is certainly
going to get the feel of supernatural from the film.”
Although he’s been working on Heartland’s production
team for ten years, this is Lepp’s first-time as a
feature film producer that he’s developed for his own
company, Iylond Entertainment. Relieved to wrap
up an intense 16 to 20 hour a day shooting schedule,
he spoke about the changing landscapes for gender
involvement in the film industry.
Sandi Somers, the first female director of a feature
film in Alberta in nearly fifteen years, is cited as the
Filming Ice Blue on location in downtown Okotoks.
he creative soul behind the Indie Blue. The cast and
crew, including Lepp, had nothing but good things to
say about their fearless, inspired leader.
“In my opinion, [Sandi] is the story of this
movie. She’s the backbone. She was calm and
cool and in control all the time. We only went
into crew overtime once which was remarkable
on an indie film,” he stated. “I think her career
by Jonathan Lawrence
is going to go crazy from here because she’s so
talented... She’s made more than seventy short
projects so she has a wealth of experience but has
never made a feature.”
When asked about the history of gender discrepancy
in directors, Lepp explained that there have
always been fewer women doing the job but there
hasn’t been the opportunity either. It’s only been
recently in media broadcasting, he explained, that
women were becoming more present.
“Sandi is trying to change that. She has a
workshop called Herland, this great mentorship
program where they bring in woman to learn from
people in the industry and then send them out the
door ready to work.”
Despite the current inequality, Lepp is hopeful for
the future.“It’s going to take some time,” he assured.
“But I think were going to see more woman getting a
lot more opportunities to direct.”
And despite the smooth production, Lepp assures
that it was certainly an exhausting one. “We shot for
fifteen days, we used every ounce of our time. 122
scenes in fifteen days,” he says, almost in disbelief.
“We shot in Millarville mostly and we also popped
into Okotoks for a couple days, we started on March
27 and finished on April 14. We were doing a lot of
nights and crazy hours. I’m very proud of what we
Ice Blue is currently looking at a fall release and possibly
a part of the festival run later this year.
local indie film inspires confidence
It’s rare when a film or a piece of work can genuinely portray the
struggles of personal insecurities and relationship drama that
doesn’t wander into washed out, network TV-friendly territory,
but Sensitive Parts does just that. Written and directed by Calgarian
Brendan Prost and shot on a humble $8,000 budget, Sensitive Parts
is a perfect example of how raw emotion, sharp dialogue and richly
drawn characters can be achieved with a modest budget and a
When an insecure young woman named Dolore (played by Canmore
native Carolyn Yonge) is forced to confront the reality of her
relationships with boyfriend Riun (Sean Marshall Jr.) and best friend
Sinead (Jennifer Kobelt), she finds it all too overwhelming. Slightly
naïve and highly sensitive, Dolore, understandably, doesn’t react too
well to her closest friends’ alcohol-induced, one-night history. She is
unwittingly thrust into a position no socially anxious person wants
to be in: one of complete vulnerability and the shattering of trust.
Charming and low-key with a touch of Canadiana, the rom-com/
dramedy makes excellent use of its minimal characters and locations,
which gives it the close, intimate feeling of a stage play. So often the
audience will wish they could stop being a bystander and just step
forward and solve the communication problems and insecurities
that the three characters face.
It’s clear that the director and actors worked closely together, as
each character feels like they’ve lived a life; they are recognizable
and real. Though each one of them differs greatly from the next, the
dynamics aren’t black-or-white as often seen in film and television. In
other words, the characters have depth and complexity. “Say what?”
you ask bemusedly.
Though the film’s themes are rooted in anxiety and trust, the
most important message is the idea of being “fierce,” a term used
repeatedly throughout the story. In fact, this idea is manifested
physically in the form of a bold, confident (and, of course,
dreamed-up) character, aptly named Fierce. Inspired by the
reigning queen of self-confidence herself, Beyonce, Fierce shows up
from time to time to remind Dolore that she has that power buried
underneath. Many people will recognize this imaginary character
from their own lives; one who tries to help, but we continually
ignore and disbelieve.
The film’s intimate nature reflects a very personal and honest
representation of both the writer and actors’ struggles with social
anxiety. Fortunately, with solid acting and writing, they pull no
punches in addressing and portraying such serious issues. That’s
not to say the whole thing is dramatic and heavy; this isn’t a onenote
flick. Throughout the roller coaster of emotions, the characters
go through, there are moments of joy and humour. The best
dramas are always the funniest.
That said, it’s refreshing to see a film address modern-day issues
of romance and anxiety in a mature, personal and responsible way.
by Jonathan Lawrence
Though the themes and characters could be timeless, it feels uniquely
youthful and specifically for the millennial generation.
This is Brendan Prost’s fourth feature film. His previous films
Generation Why, Choch, and Spaces and Reservations have all
screened at the Globe Cinema, and Prost is becoming widely
known throughout Calgary and the Canadian film scene.
The film screened theatrically in Calgary in April, followed by
screenings in Vancouver and Toronto. Support local talent, damnit!
Not to mention, it’s a great reminder that for a few Gs, some writing
skills and a lot of hard work, you can make your own Woody
Allen-inspired flick too. Not bad.
Sensitive Parts is streaming on iTunes and Amazon in May. Visit sensitivepartsfilm.com
for more information.
14 | MAY 2017 • BEATROUTE FILM
four day animation jam by Victoria Banner
rewind to the future
by Shane Sellar
Four days to make an animated short is not many
days to make an animated short — there’s barely
enough time for the artists to feel crippling doubt.
This might be why the annual Quickdraw Animation
Society’s Animation Lockdown yields upwards of 12
animated shorts per lockdown. BeatRoute chatted with
Quickdraw’s production coordinator, Tyler Longmire,
about what to expect from the event.
“Expect weird, wild cartoons made by people in Calgary”
begins Longmire, who further explains that Animation
Lockdown takes place over the May Long Weekend and
features upwards of 25 indie animators working round the
clock (even sleeping at Quickdraw’s studios) to hand in
an animated short by Monday at noon. “This is becoming
one of our largest coordinated events” continues Longmire
proudly as the Lockdown enters its 10th year. “Its so unique
that, while it’s mostly local animators, we have had teams fly
up from the States just to join in the fun.”
The event is about turning off inhibitions to turn out a
project, and offers great comradery for people with such a
fringe hobby. “Quickdraw supplies the means of production
and the energy drinks… Everyone else brings anything.”
Some people do digital animation, while others prefer
hand-drawn or stop motion. The pieces that get created
are screened the following Friday, May 24 at the EMMEDIA
Screening Room, and prizes such as production support will
The event is all-ages and all-abilities inclusive. “We have
this one group of six sisters, all under the age of 13, who
compete every year. I believe their work is being featured on
Sesame Street,” says Longmire describing the scope of the
Lockdown’s participants and their projects some of which
has been featured in festivals and on TV shorts.
The creation process is completely open to whatever style
the animator chooses, but they like to have a yearly theme
for the Lockdown. Last year’s was The End is The Beginning
is the End is The Beginning, with the intent to inspire
looping shorts. This year’s theme is Brave New Worlds.
Longmire explains, “We hope this inspires the animators to
create something optimistic and less dystopian than how
the world seems to be going these days… But it’s a pretty
Animation Lockdown takes place at Quickdraw’s new headquarters
in Sunalta. The challenge occurs May 19-22, with
registration fees ranging $50-$100 depending on membership.
A free, public screening of created works takes place May 26.
The Bye Bye Man
Being haunted in the 1960s wasn’t as scary as
today because their SPFX make-up sucked.
Luckily, the majority of this horror movie occurs
Elliot (Douglas Smith), his girlfriend (Cressida
Bonas) and their friend (Lucien Laviscount) rent
out an old house where a homicidal rampage
played out in 1969.
During a home séance an enigmatic entity, The
Bye Bye Man (Doug Jones), emerges from limbo
and begins driving the friends insane with hallucinations
of infidelity, all because they said his name.
With help from the only survivor of the massacre
(Faye Dunaway), Elliot sets out to stop Bye Bye.
Badly acted in both eras by actors who don’t deserve
the title, this inept adaptation of an obscure
work of crypto-fiction is amateurish at best - the
villain is derivative and the scares are nonexistent.
Besides, monsters wouldn’t be so sensitive about
their names if they weren’t so dumb sounding.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
The main difference between British and American
wizards is the latter has a show in Las Vegas.
Historically, however, that wasn’t always the
case, as detailed in this fantasy.
A magical zoologist from England, Newt (Eddie
Redmayne), arrives in NYC with an enchanted
suitcase teeming with a mysterious menagerie.
When his bag is mistakenly switched with a
baker’s (Dan Fogler) some of the creatures escape.
Now Newt, and his US counterpart (Katherine
Waterston), must recapture them before they run
Meanwhile, a prominent wizard (Colin Farrell)
plots to out wizardry to the public.
An adaptation of J. K. Rowling’s book that was
scripted by the author herself, Beasts is brimming
with her whimsy and ingenuity, yet detached from
her other wizard franchise enough to make this rollicking
adventure more accessible and enjoyable.
As for the beasts that they don’t locate, they
end up being served on New York hot dog carts.
Everyone already knows that McDonald’s was the
result of the Devil copulating with a kids’ birthday
But as this biography proposes, the fast-food
chain may in fact just be a business.
On the road, travelling salesman-cum-entrepreneur
Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) comes
across a drive-in restaurant run by two brothers
(John Carroll Lynch, Nick Offerman) that is
managed so efficiently that he proposes they
franchise with his help.
Ray’s relationship with the McDonald brother’s
is quickly strained, however, due to his unauthorized
alterations to their formula, and the fact he’s
phasing them out of their own company.
With a magnetic performance from Keaton as
the ruthless businessman who built the fast-food
industry on the backs of others, this quasi commercial
also serves as a captivating cautionary tale
due to its high levels of duplicity.
Moreover, McDonald’s continues to evolve,
like their recent decision to offer all-day stomach
The real reason NASA never employed female
astronauts was because there were no kitchens
Furthermore, as this drama documents, the
1960s space program was also racist.
When Al Harrison (Kevin Costner), NASA head
engineer, is perplexed by a geometry problem, he
brings African-American mathematician Katherine
Goble Johnson (Taraji P. Henson) up from Langley
to help solve it.
Unfortunately, the segregation and sexism of
the Sixties keeps her from fitting in with her white,
middle-aged male contemporaries.
Meanwhile, Katherine’s equally brilliant friends
(Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe) experience their
own discrimination at the hands of their bigoted
superior (Kirsten Dunst).
A well-acted and aptly written account of the
unpublicized contributions that African-American
women made to the space race, this biography is
inspiring on a number of fronts, specifically the
social inequalities that continue to plague society.
Incidentally, NASA also made the first black
astronaut sit in the back of the shuttle.
La La Land
Finally, Hollywood has made a film that celebrates
France’s stuttering sailors.
Oops, apparently the land in the title actually
references to tinsel town it self.
Mia (Emma Stone) is a budding actress whose
hapless life is constantly intersecting with an
aspiring jazz musician, Sebastian (Ryan Gosling),
who would rather open his own club than play in
his jazz-fusion band (John Legend).
A relationship eventfully forms between the
entertainers and they each help the other attain
their dream. However their success comes at the
expensive of their unique bond.
A keenly choreographed homage to old
Hollywood musicals set in the modern era with
its contemporary inconveniences, this song and
dance routine may have a familiar narrative but
its reinterpretation is astute; albeit saccharine at
Career defining performers from both leads and
a decent array of melodies further enhance this
Incidentally, insurance doesn’t cover injuries
obtained dancing in the streets.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
The real reason Darth Vader wears a mask is
because of a tanning bed accident.
Luckily, the UV-rays in this sci-fi movie are emitted
from actual suns.
When the Alliance learns the location of Death
Star blueprints that could turn the tide in the
resistance, they have an ex-con (Felicity Jones) and
her rag-tag rebels (Diego Luna, Donnie Yen, Alan
Tudyk) infiltrate the Empire’s tropical base and
Meanwhile, the project-lead (Ben Mendelsohn),
Lord Vader (James Earl Jones) and Grand Moff Tarkin
(Peter Cushing) each vie for credit and control
of the colossal mobile laser.
With imposing villains, unscrupulous heroes
and a straightforward story that enters some
pretty dark territory, this stand-alone prequel to a
New Hope is not only funnier than any previous
Star Wars movie, but also the most captivating
installment since the original trilogy.
Unfortunately, however, this white sandy beach
episode doesn’t feature any bikini-clad Wookies.
Entering your online dating personality profile
takes forever when you have multiple personalities.
That must be the reason the schizoid in this
thriller kidnaps his matches.
Three teenage girls (Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu
Richardson, Jessica Sula) are abducted by one of
the 23 personalities belonging to dissociative identity
disorder patient Kevin (James McAvoy).
While in his captivity the girls become acquainted
with Kevin’s other personas, including
a female and a child who the girls manipulate for
their freedom. The one disposition they haven’t
encountered happens to be the most dangerous: a
super-human intent on purging humanity.
Although the concept and characters can get
absurd, this M. Night Shyamalan feature does
find the once lauded director finding his footing
again. Moreover, the allusion at the end to an old
Shyamalan picture is worth the watch.
Incidentally, even with all those personalities
you still have to pay the entire dinner bill yourself.
He’s a Bottle-Rocket Scientist. He’s the…
BEATROUTE • MAY 2017 | 15
Thomas Coles, Luke Thompson, T-Bone Miller
Photographer: Sebastian Buzzalino (Unfolding Creative Photo)
Styling: Brittany Munro, SHINE Makeup & Styling
Location: Plowshare Artisan Diner
16 | MAY 2017 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE
When The Rumble emerged five years ago they were a
Clash-influence rowdy bunch of rockers playing for beer
and the love of being alive. Since then there’s been a
few line-up changes although the core of band, Thomas
Coles frontman and vocalist playing chord crunching guitar with some
keyboards, Luke Thomson the lead twangmaster, and T-Bone Miller, maniac
behind the drum kit, has remained the same.
Coles says, “We’ve mellowed a touch. We’re more singer-songwritery
than a big loud rock band now, I suppose. But we’ve never wanted to be
a band that does one thing. We’ve avoided being a band that does one
specific thing on purpose.”
Multi-directional they are, largely due to Coles’ sense of wonderment
and to get off the beaten path, quite literally. A year ago he pulled up
stakes when The Rumble’s band house expired as an party zone, and left
Calgary retreating to his mom’s cabin at Sylvan Lake.
“It’s not really a cabin, it’s not really in the woods. But I tell people I live
there all by myself.” While not quite the isolated eccentric, Coles definitely
travels down the literary, artist bohemian road and is not someone who’s
afraid to get his hands dirty. Attending Red Deer College taking philosophy
and English courses in the morning, he works as an “odd-jobber” in the
afternoon, then records demos on a port-a-studio at night and plays gigs
on the weekend. As an oddjobber, he talks about some rather grungy
cleanup work that involves sifting through a maze of spider nests beneath
rotting trailer park homes and clearing out used hypodermic needles from
an abandon warehouse.
To offset his unglamorous, waging earning activities, Coles has taken to
fantasy literature. “Yeah, I’ve been discovering the world of fantasy novels.
Fantasy is great way to go. I’m finishing the Dark Tower series by Stephen
King. And I’m just starting the Name Of The Wind in the The Kingkiller
Chronicle series, which is pretty popular, very Games of Thrones-like.
Does fantasy come into The Rumble?
“No, not yet. Not until we hit our prog phase, which I’m kind of getting
into,” chuckles Coles. “So I don’t know, maybe it’s coming.”
Band members are giant Ween fans, having made the pilgrimage
to Colorado last summer to see them. “We’re all Ween freaks. Maybe
that’s our model on unpredictability and variety. But we don’t do
anything silly. I don’t think there’s much of a comparison between The
Rumble and Ween.”
Not yet. But forge some fantasy with spider nests, used needles, a
budding interest in prog-rock and a Ween-like future might be a good possibility.
At the moment, however, The Rumble with their literary leanings
posses he potency of storytellers like Townes Van Zant and Lee Hazlewood
along with a strong injection of rock ‘n’ roll dramatics.
Less Medicine is their second full length that traverses off into numerous
directions but still remains unified. The lead track, “Locked Away,”
sets the multi-dimensional pace with a bouncy, melodic electro-pop feel
that’s chopped up by some funky rhythm guitar and erratic beats. What
seems like back-up female vocals is actually Coles hitting the high register
sounding very ‘60s’ girl group cum ‘70s’ disco.
“Yeah,” laughs Coles, “that’s all me doing the falsettos. That’s our catchy
pop song that starts off the album. It’s a fictional account, a made-up love
story about some guy that’s been locked up in prison and tries to get with
his old girlfriend when he gets out.”
You hear lots about anger and
sadness, but you don’t get enough
guilt in breakup songs, you know.
Reverting to a more rumba-like groove, “Ciabola” has swampy overtones
fuelled by a furious guitar riff provided by Thomson unleashing
his Nashville flash on the fretboard with some zany gang vocals
“That song is rooted in a real story, in that’s it’s based on this character
in Stephen King’s The Stand which both T-Bone and I really like. And such
a long story for so few lyrics. In the book most of the world’s population
is wiped out by a disease and all the good people go to Bolder, Colorado,
and all the evil people follow the devil to Las Vegas. There’s this character
called the Trashcan Man, a schizo and a pyromaniac, who’s guided by these
dreams and the demon promising him paradise in the desert, which he
calls Ciabola and takes off on a bicycle to pursue. So that’s what the song’s
about: this crazy dude riding across the desert singing Ciabola to himself.
King describes it (the melody) as different words to a popular song at the
time. So we decided to write music for the Trashman’s ditty. The funny
thing is that the tune King was referencing was a Tower of Power song, no
doubt about it. Shame on us for knowing our ‘70s’ funk disco.”
Delving deeper into the lyric book, “Talker” starts off with a moody
piano and Coles’ plaintive vocals….
You should have known all along
And I should have too
Love is more than mixing leaves
And boiling water
It isn’t that I lied when I said I love you
All it is, is I’m just another talker
Just talking to myself now…
by B. Simm
“There’s some dark shit on that one. That one’s a bummer,” says Coles
quietly. “It’s about guilt, I guess. Stuff that you don’t hear enough of. You
hear lots about anger and sadness, but you don’t get enough guilt in
breakup songs, you know.”
“Cabinet,” which is filled with cabaret swagger contains the line
from which the album’s title is taken from… “You don’t need a bigger
cabinet, you need less medicine,” making reference to the abundance
of life’s addiction and distractions. While it’s certainly fun and frolicking
building into a wall of torrid amplification, there’s clearly a cynical tone
that’s somewhat preachy but oozing with good Dylanesque.
“I know, I know,” admits Coles. “It’s probably a little bit preachy. But
also the only song I’ve ever really written that has an answer of any sort
to problem. Every other song is a problem. Just a big fucking problem
with no answer to it. And it’s not just about wanting, needing sobriety,
that’s why there’s so many different verses in the song, it’s about a
number of things. Obviously the cabinet and medicine is a metaphor
for sobriety, but I think it’s more about greed. Good old greed. So
yeah, it’s a bit preachy, but it’s nice,” says Coles confidently, “to have an
answer for once.”
The Rumble’s release dates for Less Medicine are Fri., May 12 at the Nite Owl
and Sat., May 13 at the Sewing Machine Factory.
BEATROUTE • MAY 2017 | 17
discovering the quintessential indie rock dance move
Taking feedback from band members, management, and mom.
There is no quintessential indie rock dance move. There are
a few adjacent flails like the skank from ska, but what indie
rock audiences are most known for is bobbing their heads.
This shouldn’t have to be the case.
Relevant to this point: Shin’s frontman James Mercer tells
BeatRoute that he is often “one of the first people to start dancing”
at a party, and is now taken to getting down on stage, a far cry from
the misty indie Americana that once changed Zach Braff’s life.
“It’s not part of indie rock,” Mercer says, arguing that to get at a
quintessential indie rock dance move, we might have to “go back to
While he’s not quite embracing the pogo yet, Mercer has “been
feeling a lot more comfortable on stage and having more fun.” In a
recent performance on Jimmy Kimmel, he is even seen guitar-less,
in front of his six-piece band and amidst a swath of nautical looking
flora. This shimmery brightness is equally evident on the band’s
Released on March 10, Heartworms is the Shins sixth offering
since their formation in ’96, and is so called because of the thoroughfare
it draws between the heart on its sleeve, and its plethora
of earworms. The record opens on one such danceable moment,
a sk- guitar driven pop song called “Name for You,” an ode to the
“limits that are placed on women’s lives.” Mercer penned the song
specifically thinking about his children and his wife, whom he praises
for her knowledge of women’s issues and feminist discourse. It’s a
song that is only political in broad strokes, focused on the experiences
Mercer works hard to empathize with.
Musically, Heartworms is a massive and instrumentally varied
collection of songs, but there have been enough Shins records to
identify a relationship and a consistent structure between them. A
Shins record usually closes with a down tempo affair. This time it’s
“The Fear,” a song Mercer describes as an attempt at a touching,
earnest song.” Mercer penned the song, but the string arrangement
was done by band member Mark Watrous and it “transforms” the
song with a “mariachi” like melody. It’s a pretty simple song (pun intended),
only “three chords” and it has a softness not unlike his best
albums closers like “Gone for Good” and “The Past and Pending.”
“I knew that was going to be the last song… I like leaving on that
sort of a note,” reveals Mercer.
While The Shins is characterized as a singer-songwriter project,
Mercer’s song-writing, production, and performance philosophy
by Liam Prost
all stems from this kind of conscious effort at empathy: he is not
a dictator. Accordingly, Heartworms was written, recorded, and
assembled in a non-linear fashion in collaboration with several new
and returning band members. For instance, there was a year gap
between the writing and recording of the first and the second verse
of “The Fear.”
Mercer writes the songs, but takes feedback from everyone he
can, from band members, to his management, and even his mom,
although he makes sure to take everything “with a grain of salt.” The
band specifically is a “really big part of this record.” For example,
upon the soundtrack cut of the track “So Now What” from director
Zach Braff’s upcoming film Wish I Was Here during a rehearsal for a
pre-album release show, the band pushed for it to be on the record.
Mercer listened, even displacing a song or two that he liked.
The band has also informed the set-list for the live set, bringing
out “new interpretations” of early songs.
“A song like “Girl Inform Me…” has this swing to it that was
never apparent before,” Mercer describes. The “new arrangement
for “Gone For Good”” has “breathed new life into it” after having
“dropped out of the set list for years.”
When rehearsing for the tour, Mercer describes wanting “to
hear what the guys in the band, what everybody liked,” and try to
incorporate those songs into the set, while still staying reverent to
the material and the audience and, of course, “play the hits.”
James Mercer is a profoundly empathetic frontman, both musically
and personally, and this has solidified perfectly into a contest to
give away the band’s early tour van to a young artist that he hopes
will use it as an “asset.”
“I could have sold it or traded it in,” Mercer says of the unusual
competition. “[But] I just wanted another band to have those crazy
experiences.” Thus, he fixed up the van, a Ford Econoline, and will
be giving it away to a “talented and hardworking” act of choice: all
you have to do is record a cover of a song on Heartworms and post
it on YouTube. Already, dozens of precocious videos are available for
Presumably, the winner will be the visionaries with the best indie
rock dance moves.
The Shins perform May 23rd at the Northern Jubilee Auditorium
(Edmonton), May 24th at MacEwan Hall (Calgary), and May 27th at
the Queen Elizabeth Theatre (Vancouver).
moulding a mature sound
by Sarah Mac
Ontario punk rockers The Flatliners have dropped a polarizing new
album entitled Inviting Light. To celebrate the occasion, they’ve
announced a Canadian tour.
2017 marks The Flatliners’ 15th anniversary as a band; their original line-up
remains intact. They’ve wandered far from their style and sound since their ska
leaning debut album, 2005’s Destroy to Create. They’ve sound has since grown
in increasingly progressive directions, including that heard on their fifth and
latest offering. Inviting Light presents a side of The Flatliners fans haven’t heard,
favouring a rock ‘n’ roll feel with a carefree vibe as opposed to the emotive punk
of yesteryears. The sound is so different that it even prompted a shift of labels,
from New Damage Records to Dine Alone Records.
Recently we chatted with front man Chris Cresswell, who plays guitar and
sings, to get the inside scoop.
“When we started writing songs for Inviting Light, some of them came out
of us sounding a little different,” he admits. “It wasn’t our intention but we kind
of embraced it… And wouldn’t making the same record again, wouldn’t that
be way worse? Because people have heard that record before. And if you do the
same record again, it’s boring.”
Cresswell muses, “If you think of someone in your life who is not artistic and
imagine you haven’t seen that person in two years, think about how much they
could change just as a person. So, when a person changes and on top of that,
they make music, that’s going to affect the music they make.”
“We started this band when we were like 14 or 15-years-old, so in a way we’ve
grown up on our records. And the reason we’ve changed so much on every
album and continue changing to the people who hear our music, it’s because
of those formative years,” he explains. True to form, the band’s debut featured a
strong ska influence, while later albums featured a maturing style that merged
skate punk with alternative indie rock.
“There’s… a happier vibe on this album,” suggests Cresswell.
“It’s a brighter, punk-rock ‘n’ roll album. But the perception of how an album
sounds is different from person to person, some people that love our early stuff
may not get this record, and that’s okay,” he says.
“But that’s the beautiful thing about music, it’s not going to go anywhere. It’ll
be there forever and a person’s perception can change. It’ll be here when they’re
Regardless of your perception of Inviting Light, no one can argue The Flatliners
put their all into every one of their albums.
“We’re pretty psyched about the fans that have stuck with us. It’s truly a
beautiful thing to have our fans grow with us. And I think we’ve been lucky to
have that over the years, and hopefully it continues.”
He concludes, “So thank you, to all you beautiful people.”
The Flatliners have an extensive Western Canada tour starting at the end of
May. Select dates include The Exchange on May 31 (Regina), Nite Owl on June 1
(Calgary), Venue Nightclub on June 3 (Vancouver), The Needle Vinyl Tavern on
June 7 (Edmonton), Amigos Cantina on June 8 (Saskatoon), and the Park Theatre
on June 9 (Winnipeg).
Veteran punk band The Flatliners make sonic departure on new record.
BEATROUTE • MAY 2017 | 19
Pop, punk, glam, a true disco diva touches down
by Colin Gallant
Laurice, a legacy that reaches beyond.
As much as we’d like to, we can’t all be 2
Live Crew. Nor can we necessarily be John
Waters, Sylvester or even The Village People.
While we can look back at subversive success
stories like these, that brought homosexuality and
unapologetic vulgarity into the mainstream, the
truth is that these wins are an exception to a history
of homogeny and losses for the disenchanted.
That’s not to say that Laurice is a loser. He’s a
winner in a very different sense. He enjoyed many
a success while working at Abbey Road studios as
an early punk and pop innovator, and then topping
charts with defiant disco extravagance in the
‘80s, uniting outsiders from both worlds of kink
and plaintive sincerity. Yet this might be your first
time hearing his name.
Censorship, payola, homophobia and trickle-down
racism, that’s the comprehensive list of
reasons why Laurice hasn’t gotten his due, according
to him. Our 45-minute interview cracked
the surface of this, but truthfully you’re better
off diving into his oeuvre and asking yourself for
more plausible reasons why this man is not a
“Flying Saucers Have Landed” from 1972 under
the name Paul St. John, “I’m Gonna Smash Your
Face In” from 1973 via the pseudonym Grudge,
“We Will Make Love,” from 1976 that was banned
from radio despite historic sales, “The Hotline”
from an unverifiable time in the ‘80s that’s about
exactly what a horny landline user might think it
is, and “Dark Side of Your Face,” recorded at EMI
in the early ‘70s but mostly appreciated in a 2015
reissue… This playlist says more with voice and
intuitive composition than any interview will.
Many of these songs would be hard to find were
it not for Laurice’s artistic tenacity and the attention
of reissue label, Almost Ready Music. More on
that in a bit. Let’s back up.
Laurice moved from Wales to London as a teen,
then to Toronto when he saw the self-hating nature
of the English music industry during the ‘70s.
Toronto was not the queer-friendly playground it is
today. Laurice recounts seeing people throw rocks
at gay men in the streets. Next it was onto Los Angeles,
where he ended up working as a talent scout
for the second time since London. A hop, skip,
jump and a few whispered secrets from there, he
now resides in Kelowna with his longterm partner
(who is also the videographer for some of Laurice’s
most iconic visuals).
You’d hardly expect him to trek all the way to
the east coast on a three city-tour at this stage, yet
that’s exactly where we find the reinvigorated Laurice.
His stop in Calgary is the only Canadian date
on his forthcoming mini-tour, where he’ll headline
the closing party of the Cinedelphia Film Festival
and do two nights in celebration of 10 years of
Almost Ready in Brooklyn.
In Calgary, at least, it brings to mind Lewis and
Light in the Attic records. Poor Lewis; a talent
overlooked, as the story goes. That whodunit
sensation felt like an Aesop Fable reminding us
to be grateful of the Internet and vinyl nerds on a
When it comes to Laurice and Almost Ready,
it’s more of a Black Mirror moment. An intolerant
society blocked Laurice from the legacy his pop
prowess warranted. Laurice never hurt anyone but
an institution that didn’t want a queer like him to
exist. While his subject matter contains extra-terrestrials,
resistance and over homoeroticism, its
core is all pop and pipes.
We encourage you to check out his music for
yourself. And don’t just take our word for it—to
put it in the [sic] words of a Facebook commenter
who booked him for a show in Vancouver: “Laurice
is a living legend and if you don’t go to this show
you don’t care about rock n roll, you aren’t cool
and you never will be. Laurice is the real deal. He is
a living legend and the number one, best show I’ve
ever put on.”
Shall the mic be dropped there?
Laurice performs at The Palomino on June 3
alongside Tommy Grimes and Suicide Helpline.
20 | MAY 2017 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE
hardcore heavyweights continue thrashing from all angles
Stu Ross regales us with tales of lawless shows and international travel.
On the grind for more than a decade, Comeback Kid has
been a dominant force in the hardcore punk scene.
Founded in Winnipeg, Manitoba at the strike of the new
millennium, their fast, heavy, aggressive and melodic sound has
gained them notoriety both nationally and internationally, recently
taking the quintet through South America and Europe.
“We do a lot of international touring,” explains rhythm guitarist
Stu Ross, who joined the band in 2012. A member of metalcore
icons Misery Signals and formerly of pop punk at Living With Lions,
Ross has recently acquired the job of talent booker at The Cobalt,
one of Vancouver’s most notorious live music venues. Ross recalls
some of the band’s craziest experiences performing abroad.
“A few years back in Bandung, Indonesia we had a show cancelled due
to what local police chalked up to permit issues,” he says.
“The promoter ended up moving the show onto a military police
base about an hour from the city. We had to surrender our passports
Without any idea of what to expect, the band was taken to a
defunct bunker where they were greeted by a roaring crowd of more
than 700 people.
“The place had dirt floors, a concrete stage and a hole in the ground
to piss in, but there was a regular functioning P.A. system. The show was
super fun and well worth the wait.”
Another show was cancelled in Tel Aviv, Israel. Last minute,
the band was invited to play at a 200 capacity DIY venue instead.
“The show was fucking nuts. Wall-to-wall people, hotter than hell,
by Johnny Papan
so much energy and excitement. It made for such a memorable
In 2014, during a South African tour, shows went smoothly and CBK
performed in front of hundreds of fans each night.
“The craziest thing was the actual travel through the country, city
to city, the townships, the countryside. We got to play with cheetahs,
horseback with giraffes, and swim with sharks. So that whole trip was
pretty nuts over all.”
Recently, the group showed their charitable side, playing a full set of
mosh-worthy tracks at the For the Children festival in Los Angeles. A
charity event, attendees were required to donate toys upon entry, which
would be given to children in need.
“It’s a cool festival with a really great cause. We were happy and honoured
to have been involved with such a special event.”
Comeback Kid headlined this two-day festival, packing the Union
Hall alongside some of the grittiest punk bands from around the globe.
The angelic nature of the event, however, would not stop the show from
becoming a heavenly combustion. A video of Comeback Kid’s set, which
can be found on YouTube, shows fans thrashing from all angles, toppling
over each other, jumping on stage and throwing themselves back into
the thunderous sea-like pit. The band would end the night with one of
their biggest hits, “Wake the Dead.”
Alas, a truck would leave the venue jam-packed with toys, and rowdy
audience members would exit with proudly worn battle-scars.
Comeback Kid is currently writing the follow-up to their 2014 album,
Die Knowing, anticipated for a Summer 2017 release. Perhaps some new
songs will be tested out on this tour, but perhaps not: regardless, the
shows will have attendees swinging from the rafters in jubilation.
Comeback Kid performs with Cro-Mags at The Park Theatre on May
24 (Winnipeg), Marquee Beer Market and Stage on May 27 (Calgary),
and at the Rickshaw Theatre/Red Room on May 28 (Vancouver).
newest offering directly informed by fentanyl crisis
The abrupt musical shifts in PMMA’s newest
offering Draw the Line are jarring and often
uncomfortable. The four-track tape opens
with the electro offering “Cold, Dark and Blue.” It
almost immediately transforms a blipping electro
beat into a post-punk melee. It literally forces the
listener to do a double take, wondering how and
where we went from point A to B.
“We definitely wanted to contrast our heavier
sounds with the catchier, pop vibe in the chorus. In
our past recordings we have always had full tracks
that were on both ends of that spectrum, but in
“Cold, Dark and Blue” we wanted to have those
abrupt distinctions within the one single song,” begins
synth player and vocalist Noodles, who’s known
by day as talented graphic artist Ryan Kostel.
“This song is about the fluctuation of emotion that
one feels when going through severe loss. I think the
music gets across that emotional rollercoaster that
we all go through when experiencing grief.”
He continues, “Last year, around the writing of this
album, we lost a very close friend and huge part of
PMMA, [our friend] Jordy, to a fentanyl related death.
He was always around for our recording sessions, in
our music video and on stage to sing KISS covers and
our lives will never be as rich without him.“
The band’s lyrical and visual themes have long
revolved around drug usage, their namesake is a
tainted strain of MDMA that appeared in Calgary.
Tragically, those themes are hitting closer and closer
to home not just for the members of PMMA, but the
country at large. As Canada struggles with the cheap
opioid that’s rapidly expanding “like a cancer” across
PMMA’s newest release Draw the Line is available on cassette.
the country, Vancouver and Calgary have both been
dubbed the tragic epicenter of the crisis. According to
a Globe & Mail explorative analysis on the subject, 81
people in Calgary died from overdoses from the drug
in 2016 alone.
Kostel explains, “The pain of his loss and dialogue
around the causes definitely found their way into
these songs and the lyrical content…. I think this
is the first time it came from truly real and painful
moments in our lives.”
While previous releases musically merged Danzig
vocal worship with post punk and dark wave
electro, the pain of the band’s loss is audible on the
EP, which turns up the electronic integrations to
extreme consequence. Their April 2015 full-length
Serotonin Syndrome featured similarly ferocious
hooks and keys, but the EP sees the latter instrument
take on a much larger role. The painful lyrics
are devastatingly real.
“Jordy’s death was a huge hit for all of us and I
by Sarah Kitteringham
think that definitely made its way into the music as a
catharsis for us,” says Mike.
“In terms of the fentanyl and opioid crisis, it’s one
of the biggest scourges to ever happen,” he continues.
“[It is] affecting everyone regardless of class, social
status, race etc. It’s to the point now where everyone
should have a Naloxone kit readily available because
you never know what’s going to happen. I see people
affected by it every day at my place of work and even
have family members affected by it, so obviously it’s
going to make its way into the music I write.”
This release will likely be the last we’ll hear from
PMMA in the foreseeable future as they take a
self-imposed break due to members moving away
for school and work. Their upcoming tour will
consequently act as a reunion with loved ones, and a
reminder to hold tight onto the people they love.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a ‘last hurrah’ release but it will
definitely be a few years until you hear from PMMA
again after this summer,” clarifies Mike.
Kostel concludes, “Just wanted to thank all our
friends and family for all your love and support. You
never know when life will take a dive so hold the ones
you love close.”
Draw the Line is available for streaming on https://
pmma.bandcamp.com/. You can purchase the EP on
cassette from Imminent Destruction in England, or buy
direct from Sloth Records or the band on their upcoming
West Coast tour. See the band perform at the Palomino
Smokehouse and Bar on May 26 (Calgary), at the
Brixx on May 27 (Edmonton), at Zack’s Coffee on June 1
(Kamloops), and at Black Lab on June 2 (Vancouver).
BEATROUTE • MAY 2017 | 21
coping through creativity
Having played with notable acts like Pressure Kill, Manchild,
Gold, Shematomas, and Burnt Shrines, Rena Kozak is a mainstay
in the Calgary music scene. Now, as solo project Child
Actress, Kozak is releasing her debut album, Milking A Dead Cow.
Writing, recording, and mixing was all done by Kozak, meaning that
Child Actress veers away from the works of her past to offer up something
“The thing that is the most different for me is that I finally feel like I’m
expressing my ideas,” says Kozak.
“I feel like my role in the world a lot of the time is to inspire other
people to be their best self. So that translates when I’m in bands. Someone
would come up with an idea, and no matter what I thought about
it, I would sort of help them develop it, and put my own ideas aside
most of the time.”
With Child Actress, however, Kozak is front and centre.
“This is actually what I’ve wanted to say, and musically it’s different
from everything I’ve done before.”
Kozak was motivated to start the project after the death of her
partner Chris Reimer, anther celebrated Calgary musician who was a
member of Women and the Dodos.
“’Great Hall’ was the first song that came to me after Chris passed
away. I had the full song, lyrics and everything, within a half hour of
sitting down, and I thought, ‘okay, maybe I want to write more music,
and that’s going to be my way of dealing with this,’” muses Kozak.
“This batch of songs was an experiment for me to figure out how
to write and record music by myself, and I hadn’t necessarily planned
to put them together as a release. I envisioned these as a catalyst for a
more cohesive project in the future, but then they just fit together.”
While many prefer to retreat in times of grief, Kozak’s openness
helped her cope.
“There’s always this kind of clouding over people when they talk to
me because it’s like ‘Oh is she going to be uncomfortable talking about
this elephant in the room,’ but I talk about it all the time and am totally
comfortable with it,” explains Kozak.
“I was very open to whatever I was thinking, and wanted to feel
whatever pain I was feeling as openly as possible, so it was very easy to
translate that into music.” However, she does admit that being vulnerable
through music isn’t always straightforward.
“To be presenting a piece of material and associating it with this grief
process, I’m not entirely sure how the public that consumes music is going
to receive that, and that’s a little bit intimidating. It’s different than
just being in a group of people and going ‘Yeah, I have a dead boyfriend.’
This is a public presentation of art, with that behind it.”
As for songs that stand out to her, Kozak has a special attachment
to “Fully Waterproof,” which evolved from one of Reimer’s
“I was given permission to use these songs and finish them. He made
these musical arrangements and came up with what I thought he was
saying in the lyrics, even though he would sometimes not be saying
words or you couldn’t really understand them,” Kozak recalls.
With dreamy numbers like “Soup,” and upbeat tracks like
“Monogamy,” Milking a Dead Cow isn’t what you’d expect from an
album about grief.
“If you were to read that it was a grief-driven project, you would not
expect it to sound the way that it does,” Kozak explains.
The music is correspondingly floating yet quietly sad, with understated
echoing vocals, shuffling drums, and dreamy guitar lines throughout.
“It’s definitely a pop record. It just came to be what I want to hear,
and it just happens to be from a place of grief.”
Child Actress releases Milking A Dead Cow on tape and digital format
through Wyatt Records on May 19. She performs at the Owl on May
18 (Lethbridge), The Nite Owl on May 19 (Calgary), and at the Sewing
Machine Factory on May 20 (Edmonton).
by Morgan Cairns
photo: Jennifer Crighton
Rena Kozak finds creative and personal release with latest project.
starting over and leaving it all behind
If you thought pop star JoJo was gone, you weren’t paying attention.
After a decade of record-label drama, hundreds
of written, recorded, and scrapped
songs, and a myriad of personal problems,
former pop star JoJo released Mad Love in
fall 2016. It was her first full-length album since
2006’s The High Road, which featured her standout
hit “Too Little Too Late.” Contrary to popular
knowledge, she released a series of successful,
critically acknowledged mix-tapes and EPs in the
period since. If you haven’t heard from her, it’s
because you just weren’t paying attention.
So why the wait? JoJo’s always been about the
music, but after signing to a label and finding
commercial success so young (her debut single
“Leave (Get Out)” made her the youngest solo
artist to have a number one hit in the United
States, at the precarious age of 13-years-old), her
previous label slept on her, unsure of what to do.
Despite her best efforts, her music was unable to
reach the light of day (if you care enough, search
#FREEJOJO – a campaign ignited by her devoted
fans). In 2014, she was finally freed.
“There’s a huge difference between making an
album at 12 and an album at 24; more freedom,
more experience, more confidence, and more
trust,” says the artist on the phone before her
sound check in Norfolk, Virginia.
Her voice is hoarse, a testament to her work
ethic and gruelling tour schedule. Throughout
our conversation, her utter commitment to her
fans, her work, and her music is obvious.
During the lead up to what would become
Mad Love, JoJo went through a break-up, lost her
father, and returned from a tour in support of her
EP III. While it was a struggle, and she still had to
compromise with her new label, she is now able
to advocate for herself and take the reins. As a
result, Mad Love has something for everyone,
representing the entire praxis of modern pop
and RnB. There’s dancehall hues, bubble-gum
sweetness, strong dismissals of bad friends and
ex-boyfriends, and ballads that flex JoJo’s impeccable
vocal muscle. All of it is reflective of her
diverse influences, which she’s shown glimpses of
throughout her long career.
“I grew up with everything from Catholic
Church music to blues, musical theatre, and
hip-hop,” she says. “I keep Joni Mitchell, D’Angelo,
Aretha Franklin and the Phantom of the Opera
on the same pedestal.”
Her album plays somewhere between hard and
soft, possibly best represented through two of its
parallel guest spots, which include hip-hop heavyweight
Remy Ma (“FAB”), and Canadian pop-starlet
Alessia Cara (“I Can Only”). JoJo had Ma in
mind for “FAB,” which uses a throbbing guitar line
and guttural vocals to dismiss fake friends.
Cara was the first person JoJo played the album
for, and she immediately asked to for the afore-
by Trent Warner
mentioned feature. The parallels here are obvious:
they are both two young pop stars who popped
off with their first single, either destined to fade
or continue to shine.
“It definitely wasn’t a conscious choice. My
nature is the same juxtaposition, my nature
informed the choices made on the album more
Rising in conjunction with similar teen stars, it
would have been easy, or even expected, for JoJo
to crumble under the pressure. She credits the
people around her: her family, her friends, her
team and her manager (two of whom came from
her previous label), for keeping her in check.
Over that ten-year period where she struggled
to get out of her recording contract, it was the
investment of the aforementioned that kept her
going. Regardless, she made the decision not to
let her story end there.
As she says, she “took what could have been a
period and turned it into an ellipsis…”
So, finally, she’s back with new music and a
renewed energy. Fans of her early work shouldn’t
worry about missing out on those classics,
though. She hasn’t forgotten her roots and is
always eager to please her long time fans.
“There’s definitely moments to dance, reflect,
and put your middle fingers up.”
JoJo performs at the Burton Cummings Theatre on
May 10 (Winnipeg), the Ranch Roadhouse on May 11
(Edmonton), the Palace Theatre on May 12 (Calgary)
and the Vogue Theatre on May 13 (Vancouver).
22 | MAY 2017 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE
philosophy in solitude
photo: Jared Jespersen
like living in Calgary because of the solitude.”
So begins Nate Jespersen of Calgary’s Ultrviolence. The
multi-talented creative force behind the skittish post-punk
band embodies the strange transience of the genre in every sense
it’s known. Ultrviolence’s immersive sound is constructed with a
dark wave foundation that pulls listeners into its gloomy depths to
languish. With new EP Forty Knives coming out in May, fans of bands
like Interpol and Joy Division will be instantly drawn to something
new, yet oddly familiar, to stomp around in the rain to.
As for an album release party?
“Shit, that would have been a good idea…” says Jespersen, trailing
off. He is currently caught up between the production of Ultrviolence
in his studio outside Calgary, and rehearsing in Vancouver with
the band ACTORS.
The interview is paused briefly to motion the PRLR bartender over
to discuss Nite Owl stage time in a gloriously on-brand exchange of
nonchalant disinterest between all three parties. So who knows if
by Victoria Banner
later this month we’ll be dancing [or pointedly not dancing] live to
the fast drums, distant guitar, and heavy vocals of Ultrviolence.
Up until a very short time ago, Ultrviolence consisted of only Jespersen,
who had a hard time retaining members. It now also includes
guitarist Ali Abbas, and drummer Kirk Power.
“I don’t think I’m difficult to work with,” he says, elaborating
that he’s been burned by many bands he’s worked in over the last
decade by a working class aversion to artistic success. After hitting
his late 20’s, an overwhelming drive to “do something” kicked in
and thus Ultrviolence was born. Consequently, Forty Knives is
everything that Jespersen has wanted to do himself as he spent a
decade in other bands.
Particularly proud that three of his songs are also getting music
videos (including “Guillotine,” “Dead Bedrooms,” and “Let You Down
Slowly’”), Jespersen worked with his visually creative peers to have an
incredibly productive year.
On the topic of the year, post-punk has long been the soundtrack
to existential depression and 2016 saw sadness as a running punchline.
When asked about staying fresh in the times, Jespersen outlined
where he goes for inspiration.
“Go back to the classics, the philosophers,” he says. “Plato, Aristotle...
See what they were up in arms about, and it will probably still
Perhaps this reverence to the classics is what gives Ultrviolence’s
sound such an authentic dose of post-punk existentialism. There’s
a strong attention to detail induced by an obsession with Canadian
“I think you’re called to make that post-punk sound,” acknowledges
On Forty Knives that call rings true.
Ultrviolence will be streaming Forty Knives exclusively at BeatRoute.ca
starting May 12.
barreling out the gate
by Keeghan Roleau
watch the world burn
The setting is The Gateway, a college bar packed with fans
throwing up “2” with their fingers, a testament to the
rebranding of local hip-hop artist Transit to his slightly
altered, but easier to recognize, moniker Transit22. The evening is
the first time Daniel Bennett and DJ Johnny Williams have played
Calgary in a long time, and it happens to be the album release
party for their latest album, dubbed Pity Party Project. The crowd
is blowing up, screaming along to every word of the tongue-incheek
dance party album.
In BeatRoute’s last talk with Bennett, his recent divorce was the
subject of his darkest album to date (2015’s Occupy Tall Trees), but
with Pity Party Project, that tumultuous topic takes a different turn.
“I wanted to make something that I could express what I was
going through but also that I could really vibe out to,” Bennett
describes. “Something you could play at a party and that you could
also play and reflect on.”
The project came to life especially with the help of fellow former
Peak Performance Project veterans Little India, who lend a sharp pop
retrospective to the admitted “dark raps,” and helped the vision of an
“‘80s indie pop divorce record” come to life.
The whole album gives off a blithe, bouncy elation, offsetting
the sometimes-heavy lyrical content. It’s metaphorically a mud
splattered, broken glass covered, track-suit wearing break dancer,
having the time of their lives, hitting every beat with ferocity despite
the chaos of it all.
“If you’re having a good day [the album] will feel different than if
you’re having a bad day. It has that duality,” Bennett concurs.
Stand out tracks “Thinking of You” (featuring Little India) and
“Throw the Match” (featuring P.O.S.) are prime examples of why
the album resonates so strongly. So much of our current culture
involves escapism: finding the happiness in little things while the
world slowly burns around you, overwhelmed by mountains of
by Willow Grier
stress and deadlines.
Perhaps, this album is a testament to broken hearts and
bruised egos or perhaps it’s a testament to millennial culture. Yes,
the job market is at an all-time low. Yes, we have higher debt than
anyone imaginable. Yes, our degrees are becoming obsolete as we
graduate and industries die. Yes, young people today are experiencing
more pressure and stress than ever before. But damn, we
sure know how to party.
Catch Transit22 on May 18 with Astronautalis and Brom as they
return to the Gateway (Calgary). Stay tuned for the release of a music
video for “Throw the Match,” coming soon.
photo: Jordan Lee
photo: Ruel Gauld
Sellout is the old-school modern punk band that the late ‘80s worshipper
in you has been waiting for. Combining their love for grunge
classics by Nirvana with their collective history in musical theater,
previous bands, and music studies, Sellout has the incredibly unique
sound. Case in point: the three-track demo on Bandcamp features poppy
and repetitive riffs as the welcome mat to their funhouse that drags you
in, quickly distorting into rough, gritty noise that emulates the wicked
and twisted mirrors within.
The band makes music for the sake of making music, it’s their band and
they’re not catering to anyone, and they sound like it. So, we asked lead
vocalist Sarah, why do you play? Who do you play for?
“We’re just having fun. I’m having a friggin’ blast,” she responds.
The “friggin blast” is contagious and ready to spread. The band has already
graced the stage at the sold-out Bat Sabbath (the Cancer Bats alter-ego side
project that does Black Sabbath covers) show, wowing the crowds with their
tight, cohesive assault.
The band’s plan is to release a series of EPs, starting with the late May
release of their five track, self-titled offering.
“It’s going to be a little more rock ‘n’ roll,” she says of the recording.
“It’s still going to have that grit, just a little groovier.”
And if that doesn’t get you excited enough for the month, the band will
also be playing the third rendition of Moments Fest, the all-ages, multi genre
music festival out in Siksika Nation on Saturday, May 20. Also featuring
Calgary based acts No More Moments, Napalmpom, Shark Weak, River Jacks,
Knife Dogs, and over a dozen other bands, it starts at three p.m. and runs
all day at the Siksika Community Centre. Tickets are 15 dollars in advance,
and this year the event features a newly minted second stage, dubbed the
CJSW 90.9 FM stage. If you’re unable to make the drive out to see that, you’ll
definitely be able to catch their full set over at the Calgary station on the 31
of May, so be sure to leave your dial on the FM frequency!
Sellout performs at the third rendition of Moments Fest on May 20 (Siksika
Nation). Their five track EP will be released in May, you can find it online at
BEATROUTE • MAY 2017 | 25
26 | MAY 2017 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE
finding growth and wisdom in challenge
Edmonton’s resident punks warm up their sound for newest album.
Not everyone is comfortable with the gritty
dissonance that is coaxed out of a guitar.
Take, for instance, playing the second
string, sixth fret, and first string open together
while cranking up the distortion – it produces
a jarring sound that is uniquely unnerving. As
BeatRoute discovered in conversation with SLATES
vocalist and guitarist James Stewart, he seeks out
photo: Chris Wedman
this sound, and the feeling it induces, every day.
Speaking to something uniquely unnerving:
SLATES are back with their first new music since
2014’s Taiga with the May 19th release Summery.
The new album is a thematic collection of 11 tracks
(eight songs, three instrumental bridges) that remains
on the path forged by its predecessor with some
tasteful evolution integrated throughout. A sensible
approach, considering this is a band so committed to
its own development.
“We were writing and playing the whole time
[between albums],” Stewart explains.
“We went out to New Zealand and Australia,
Dallas (drummer) became a father, I dealt with some
pretty intense family stuff... So a lot of life happened.
This album could have taken six months or six years.”
Summery is much more than a collection of songs,
it’s a glimpse into a band that has settled into itself,
ready to make music that means something to the
working-class fan. The events of the past few years
and Stewart’s personal challenges are infused within.
He speaks candidly about his work to make sense of
the difficulty, emerging from an obviously cacophonous
blend of peaks and valleys in his personal life.
The four-piece punk unit is clearly at home in the
punk aesthetic while defying the genre-splitting box
so many other acts fall into. Their sound is not the
muted three chord anthems of pop punk and they
are rarely limited to the verse-chorus default. Instead,
they weave cohesive and memorable bursts of layered
angsty guitars and overlapping tones under rich,
grainy vocals, finding their way through a beginning
and an end. It conveys dissonance in its process and
“It’s nothing we did intentionally,” Stewart clarifies.
He mentions the heavy influence of early Television
and Sonic Youth records, then adds, “It’s just the
way we write: inviting dissonance into the songwriting
by Glen Erickson
Listening to the first half minute of “Marquee
Moon” by Television, with its dryly quirky and deft
guitar work alongside shuffling drums, clarifies this
statement. As does the band’s choice of producer
Steve Albini, who they previously worked with on
Taiga. The famously eclectic producer of albums such
as Nirvana’s In Utero  and Pixies’ Surfer Rosa
 trekked to Edmonton to work with the band,
tracking them live and to tape. The result is an audible
intention, and attention to detail, without any
swelled self-perception, making SLATES all the more
compelling. Musically, they are clearly working things
out, like the short-lived UK act Mclusky, with their
love of tense harmonies. As a whole, their nice-guy
persona and focus on the whole package is reflective
of contemporaries such as Beach Slang.
To support the new album, SLATES has released a
black and white video for the track “Sub-Optimal,” directed
by Fish Griwkowsky, which imitates the band’s
spontaneous writing style and captures the urgency
of the song. It depicts the band frantically racing
down various sets of staircases around Edmonton.
So what does Stewart hope fans will take away
from Summery when they finally hear the songs?
“I just hope they like it.”
Honest as punk.
SLATES’ fourth full length Summery arrives May 19 via
New Damage Records. Check out the album release
parties May 26th at the Palomino (Calgary) and May
27th with Switches at Barber Ha (Edmonton).
first time author opens up about life as a touring artist
The notion of sacrifice is vast. To choose routine is to sacrifice
adventure. To choose art and passion is to sacrifice normalcy.
At least, this is what Toronto’s Eamon McGrath is scrutinizing
in his debut book, Berlin-Warszawa Express. The 104-page novella
fictionalizes events throughout McGrath’s substantial experience as
a traveling folk punk musician playing, drinking, partying, and being
broke around the world. At the same time, it explores the heavy questions
this lifestyle forces artists to confront: is a life of artistic freedom
a fulfilling substitute for stability?
BeatRoute: You share a lot of intimate, dark moments with the
reader in the book. Were you nervous to share these details?
Eamon McGrath: A little bit. More so in the sense that they might kind
of overshadow the story. There’s a lot of gratuitous drinking, for example.
I didn’t want it to be like the drinker’s handbook or something like that. It
is a really dark tale, but it comes back to the people working on the book
who were giving honest feedback. At no point making this book did they
want to send me to rehab. There was always that separation. I think part
of that is because I’m not living that way anymore. That was a time in my
life and now it’s over.
BR: The last time we spoke [personally], I remember you
telling me the book was meant to be a sort of open ended
question: is it worth it to suffer for your art? At this point in
your life, how would you answer that question?
EM: I think it’s totally worth it. I’ve always been fortunate to play worthwhile
shows and have great experiences despite the tumultuous ones. So
maybe I’ve had a different experience than somebody who has to deal
with band politics or egos or something. So, in my personal experiences,
yes… but I don’t think everybody has the same kind of positive outcome
if they just stick with something long enough. And I didn’t want my
personal opinion to come through by the end of the book. I want people
to come to their own conclusion.
BR: There’s a point in the book where someone asks you how
much money you had and you answered, “nothing.” How
do you think people who have chosen a formulaic lifestyle
(school, house, marriage, etc.) will interpret your book?
EM: Both of those choices come with their own slew of sacrifices.
Someone who’s always wanted to play in a band but never did
because they went to med school. You have to sacrifice passion and
experience for routine and comfort. I sacrificed routine, comfort,
relationships, and money… I’ve sacrificed a lot. I’m not trying to say
one is better than the other…. But no matter what there will always
be some kind of price to pay.
BR: In Edmonton you’re doing a reading at Audrey’s Books
and I’ve heard you’ll have Darrek Anderson of the Guaranteed
joining you with his guitar. Is that true?
EM: The idea was to incorporate more acoustic stuff into the reading,
so he’ll probably play some pedal steel. I never wanted it to be this thing
where I’m not considered a musician because I have a book out now. I do
want to treat this as more of incorporation into what I’m already doing
musically. I don’t want it to be seen as different art forms. The songs on
the records are similar stories to the stories in the book. This is just another
way of telling them.
Berlin-Warszawa Express is released on May 10th. McGrath kicks off his
Canadian tour at Audrey’s Books for an afternoon reading followed by a
louder performance at The Buckingham with Counterfeit Jeans and the
Betrayers (Edmonton). You can catch him May 11th at Nite Owl with Cold
Water (Calgary) and May 13th at the Owl Acoustic Lounge (Lethbridge).
by Brittany Rudyck
photo: Chris Wedman
Folk punk musician shares tales of darkness, grit, and sacrifice.
28 | MAY 2017 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE
new perspectives on signature sounds
Psych punks get a bit more serious on new split.
It’s been one very long year since we’ve heard
from Edmonton’s favourite team of bratty punks
Switches. Since their inception in 2013, the band
has unleashed soulful garage punk full of whirly
organs and snotty harmonies, so it’s with joy we
announce they’re back with a new split!
The Edmonton music scene noticed the tangible
void left when Switches lead singer/guitarist Tara
McMahon moved east to Toronto to finish a master’s
photo: Levi Manchak
degree and pursue her career. The remainder of the
band took some time to recalibrate, teasing us in January
2016 with the EP All My Darlings. They followed
it up with a cross-Canada tour that included a pair
of dates at Calgary’s Sled Island Music & Arts Festival.
The short return was cause for sonic salivation; now
they are back once more.
The new EP Split Tenders was recorded this past
August in Montreal with Edmonton ex-pat and re-
by Kennedy Pawluk
cording whiz Renny Wilson. While they were out east,
Switches played with Toronto punks Planet Creature
and the two bands fell in love. Split Tenders is the fruit
of their loins and preserves the Switches style we’ve
come to love over the years: doused with vintage
organ lines and tons of harmonies.
Musically the album takes a much darker personal
tone than past efforts. During McMahon’s time in
Toronto, her focus shifted away from music, providing
the opportunity for her to write from a more personal
place with less influence from the community she
was surrounded by in Edmonton. Lyrically the album
takes a more introspective approach reflecting on
the experiences and difficulties that come along with
moving to a new city.
Sadly, other than the release shows for Split Tenders,
Switches don’t have any other live appearances
scheduled, but this is no reason to shift your gaze
“In terms of touring, nothing is planned right now
but you should definitely wait for a new album,”
“We have a video coming out to that we’re pretty
excited about and in the next year you’ll definitely see
a lot more happening.”
Split Tenders will see the light of day May 26 at the
Palomino (Calgary) with PMMA, Mandible Klaw Blü
Shorts, and more. Also see the band at Barber Ha on
May 27 with SLATES (who are also releasing an album)
and Tee-Tahs (Edmonton).
patience pays off for seasoned punk ruffians
Delaying gratification is never easy. To bide one’s time and wait patiently
can be deflating, disparaging, and as Ryan Dix, bassist of the Old Wives
attests, “it can be really frustrating.”
Dix and the rest of the band speak from experience. Their latest record Three
has been under production for over two years as they determined the best way to
roll it out.
“The decision to wait this long was in part situational,” explains Dix.
“But we also wanted to take the time to shop it around and do it right.”
After recording the album with Greg Wright in their hometown of Edmonton,
the punk-rock three-piece featuring Shaun Millard (guitar and vocals) and Darren
Chewka (drums) began the arduous chore of shopping the record to labels.
“I would be sending emails to labels all over the world until we finally had some
offers,” recalls Dix.
“We were moments from signing a deal with one label when another approached
us. It was a nice problem to have.”
The label in question was U.K. based Little Rocket Records. After nearly signing
with another label, the guys unanimously decided Little Rocket would be the right
choice and delayed the release date even further. True to Dix’s word, they felt like
the wait was worth it.
The 10-song album follows the same sonic trajectory the group has had
for the last eight years: anthemic pop-punk tracks peppered with melodic
harmonies. However, the new songs in no way recycle previous recordings.
As a result, Three is Old Wives crispier, catchier, faster and more relatable
than ever. Tracks like “Lying Through My Drink” and “Pity Party,” contain
themes like drinking and hangovers, but also breach more personal matters
within those potentially complex issues.
“We started feeling forced to really look at ourselves and began writing more
personal songs about slightly more serious matters.”
Another reason for the thematic evolution heard on Three can be attributed
to the new line-up. Initially a four-piece, Dix joined the band seven years
ago and Liam Copeland left nearly three years ago. The change in the band’s
members not only affected what they wrote, but also the writing process.
“I would bring songs to the group and we would work on them, but we found it
a lot easier writing with only three people,” Dix divulged.
Power punk trio mature (but only a little) on newest release.
“One less voice wasn’t a bad thing.”
Hear it for yourself when Three is released on May 5.
by Kevin Klemp
photo: Matt Foster
Join the Old Wives with the Weekend Kids, the Ativans and KJ Jansen of Chixdiggit
at the Needle Vinyl Tavern on May 5 (Edmonton) for the release party for Three.
They also play The Windsor on May 12 (Winnipeg) and the Ship & Anchor on May
BEATROUTE • MAY 2017 | 29
punk band attributes shelf life to tight friendship
The Blame-its are ramping up to put out a
very raucous, DIY tape for their 20th anniversary
this month. The thing is, they haven’t
even recorded yet.
Chris Workun (guitars/vox) gave BeatRoute the
scoop on how he, Tye Hayes (bass/vox), Travis Hayes
(guitars/vox) and Marco West (drums) intend on
putting together their anniversary tape as well as
how they’ve survived this long in the first place.
Part of the band’s endurance has relied on friendship,
but also their-tried-and-true formula of classic,
bouncy three-chord soda-pop punk. While that
methodology won’t necessarily change for the new
tape, their approach to the recording process has.
Traditionally, the four-piece records with Jesse Gander
of Rain City Recorders and aim for a produced,
polished sound. They’re choosing to strip down for a
low-fi, grainy sound when they record with Graeme
MacKinnon of No Problem at the beginning of the
month. The Blame-its are also charging into the new
tape with one of the quintessential tenets of the punk
rock mentality: Do-it-yourself.
“The artwork definitely inspired the tape,” Workun
“My friend Chris Nielson, an old friend from
Hinton, drew the cover for our first album Freeze
My Brain. So I asked him to do it for our anniversary.
He did it all in one go so that’s how we’re
going to approach the recording. If it’s bad, whatever.
The best part of an album for me is when
you can clearly hear a mistake. It’ll be nice not to
worry about it.”
garage rockers spread the love with latest release
Modern psychedelia ensemble gets by with a little help from their friends.
One of the most notable (and humorous) statements from Betrayer’s
guitarist/vocalist Travis Sargent implies his lack of experience as a
musician and visual artist.
“Wow, it’s becoming clear through this interview that I’m a total fraud!” Sargent
exclaims with a smile.
Sargent’s humorous self-deprecation can easily be credited to the audible evolution
heard on the band’s second full-length album, April’s 12 Songs to Haunt You.
Celebrating two decades of Edmonton’s favourite soda pop punk hooligans!
It almost seems comical the band hasn’t recorded
this way, as their approach to band organization
has always been organic and homegrown.
From putting on outdoor music festivals (Punk
Rock Show) in their hometown of Hinton when
they were 15, to building their own press kits to
promote their first tour, The Blame-its make every
aspect of band longevity look simple.
“The first trick is to be best friends, for like, ever,”
Workun says, laughing.
photo: Levi Manchak
by Britany Rudyck
photo: Ryan King
“There’s no ego in the band, we respect each
other and we’re all on the same page when we
write the songs. Sometimes we’ll meet for a jam
and maybe play four songs within a few hours and
just have beers together. We’re good at bein’ buds!”
The Blame-its perform on May 19th at the Sewing
Machine Factory with Vibes, Bad Buddy and Uptights
(Edmonton), and on May 20th at the Valley Zoo with
Uptights and Counterfeit Jeans (Hinton).
by Brittany Rudyck
While the band’s 2014 debut Let the Good Times Die was great in its hollow garage
guitar tones and its raunchy, psychedelic lo-fi quality, there’s something to be said
for getting your friends involved in projects.
This is exactly what Betrayers did on their second full length, using former band
members and expanding their own musical prowess. These few steps dramatically
altered their work, creating intriguing and fun layers; something not overly present
in their first record.
“I think the more people you get involved on a record, the better,” Sargent
“It becomes more interesting. It was also a nice way to deviate from the usual
tricks we rely on and have someone else be in the mix.”
Whether it was in the recruitment of new people or simply a matter of time
and maturity, 12 Songs to Haunt You is a clear departure from the old sound. The
album is markedly more fun and easy going, weaving psych textures and whirling
instrumentals, creating an easy, playful vibe. Sargent also mentioned the new ease
with which the band now works its way through songs.
“Over time you learn to speak each other’s languages,” he says.
“The early days it may have taken months to work something out. Now we can
figure it out in a day or two.”
Whatever the reason, one thing is crystal clear: Betrayers have a refreshingly
humble approach to their craft.
“It was one of those things that starts out as a bedroom recording project where
you put some songs out for fun for your friends to hear,” Sargent reminisces.
“I learned how to play guitar watching YouTube videos of Guitar Center
dudes with ponytails and heavy metal guitars teaching basic chords and just
figured it out.”
He pauses and adds with a shy grin, “I’m still not a shredder by any means.”
See the Betrayers in action with their new tunes at Nite Owl with nêhiyawak,
Guantanamo Baywatch, Marlaena Moore and more on May 5 (Calgary). You can
also see them at Eamon McGrath’s book release at the Buckingham with Counterfeit
Jeans on May 10 (Edmonton). You can order a copy of 12 Songs to Haunt You at
30 | MAY 2017 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE
BOOK OF BRIDGE
noise rock made for star-crossed lovers
by Courtney Faulkner
Tyson Wiebe (left) and Mickey Hayward of Cope tour their latest EP.
photo: Jayme Javier
If you’re a fan of Local H, Shellac, Brand New,
Refused, and Death From Above 1979, powerful
rock duo Cope will strike the right chord.
Consisting of Mickey Hayward on drums and
Tyson Wiebe on guitars and vocals, the duo plays
loud, thoughtful, noisy, and unpredictable tunes.
It’s all about the power of two.
With the release of their self-titled EP on April
21 on their independent label Norwegian Blue
Records, Cope has given us an introduction to
their sound. The album is available on vinyl,
cassette, and digital download.
The three tracks on the EP are from the duos
first writing sessions and they are a strong representation
of what the band sounds like. Opening
with the instrumental track “Cryptid,” Cope
invites you in with a melodic lead that flows
seamlessly into a full noise-rock progression that
is somewhat surprising for two people to create.
“I don’t like playing high hats in this band, at
all. I’m constantly washing out my crashes, just
because I feel like it’s too naked sometimes,” says
“I think that just for this band too, it’s like a
noisy band, drums should be noisy and washy,
cause I’m filling void, essentially, a frequency
that’s not getting hit, because guitar’s so heavy
and in the middle. So it’s nice to have something
bright, so I’m doing that.”
“I think it’s a lot to do with the chord choices
I’m making and just turning my amp really loud,”
add guitarist Wiebe.
“Sometimes using two amps, as it was in the
actual recording, and running one a little bit bassier
so we get a little more at the bottom end.”
The two have played together for over eight
years in various bands. When their current projects
Mormon Girls and Atomicos took a pause
they saw it as an opportunity to work together
more intimately. The change of sound, and pace,
has been a positive creative outlet.
“It puts you into a different state of writing
when you’re playing a different instrument,” says
“Getting back to guitar after playing bass for
a while, I’m realizing that my playing is different.
I play in Atomicos, which is a surf rock band, so
everything is really high and twangy.
“This is the complete opposite of that; everything
is really low and crunchy. Having those
different outlets gives me that freedom.”
“This band is the heaviest of the bands that
I listen to, so it’s weird. I’m having to listen to
heavier music ‘cause I’m like, ‘I don’t know what
I’m going to play in this,’” says Hayward.
“I’m like a jazz drummer from when I was a
kid. It’s weird, it opens it up, I’m branching out.”
A live show reveals the intuitive chemistry
these two have when playing together.
“There’s that twin language,” says Hayward.
“’Cause we’ve played together for so long, we can
feel it out more.”
“It comes up in the live show for sure,” counters
“You’ll see that when we extend something
and he just knows that I’m going to, or I just
know that he’s going to go maybe a little longer
at one part, and we can just kind of communicate
“It’s evolving constantly,” says Hayward.
“An idea’s never really done.”
Case in point: closing track “Tropic of Capricorn”
is described by Wiebe as “a two minute pop song,
with a five minute noise solo on the end,” that gives
room for this aforementioned evolution.
“Every time there’s something a little bit
changed, with the way I’m playing it, or arranging
it,” says Wiebe.
“It can go completely different depending on
the night. It can be up to 12 minutes long, or it
can be like five.”
“Depends how tired we are at the end,” laughs
Hayward. “If we played a 20 minute set or a 45
minute sweat, and how sweaty, and how hurt my
“Mother Russia,” a song about star-crossed
lovers, on either side of the iron curtain, ties the
“It’s about climbing over the Berlin Wall, and
getting somebody back over it,” says Hayward,
who initiated the lyrics with a verse reminiscent
of the Cold War era.
“It’s something where those two lines sparked
the song, and just trying to tie together that
imagery of a time and place,” says Wiebe.
“It was just kind of gratuitous with Trump’s
ties to Russia and things like that coming out,”
He concludes somewhat cheekily, “Now we
always dedicate [the song] to our favourite starcrossed
lovers Trump and Putin [at] every show,
so that’s fun.”
Cope is touring their self-titled EP with Supervoid
and the Moonrunners. They’ll be playing the Underground
Café on May 4 (Saskatoon), O’Hanlons on
May 5 (Regina), and at a yet TBA venue on May 6
32 | MAY 2017 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE
letters from winnipeg
half toe raconteur
Micah Erenberg brings his gift for gab on the road.
Poor Mic’s Toe, the debut full-length record
from Micah Erenberg, is a captivating,
free-flowing listen that showcases the bedroom
folk singer-songwriter’s knack for narrative
storytelling—and he’s got quite the stories to tell.
The spirited roots rambler “Morphine,” for example,
recounts a lawnmower accident, which resulted in the
loss of half of Erenberg’s toe when he was 12-years-old
(see: the album’s cover art for a photo of said half toe),
and his thirst for “medical grade shit” after getting his
first taste of the pain medication.
“Won’t you please, please, please, please, please,
please, please gimme more, more, more, more, more
morphine,” he joyously stutters on the song.
“The song is definitely a dramatization,” Erenberg
says with a laugh. “For the most part, I’m pretty straight
and narrow. I don’t even smoke pot, really.”
While Poor Mic’s Toe was mostly home-recorded
by Erenberg, a slew of Manitoba musicians
also lent a hand, including The Crooked Brothers’
Darwin Baker and Matt Foster, who assisted with
engineering and production, along with drummer
Dan Bertnick, and bassist Matt Filopoulos, among
Homeschooled until Grade 10 in the town of
Matlock, Manitoba (about an hour drive north of Winnipeg),
songwriting always seemed to come naturally
to the now 24-year-old multi-instrumentalist. Releasing
EPs and demos since he was a teenager, a few of the
songs on the record were written when he was still in
“I spent a lot of time alone, writing and making
music,” he says.
Among his older tracks, “I Just Wanna Go to Sleep
Forever,” was written in 2009, and is an early indication
of Erenberg’s love for making sad songs with happy
by Julijana Capone
photo: Emmett Kowler
feels and all-around quirky sensibilities.
“A lot of the music I’m into is kind of depressing,
like Townes Van Zandt or Elliot Smith,” he admits.
“There’s something you get out of sad lyrics that can
Meanwhile, on the strangely unforgettable “Call
of the North,” Erenberg sings about a wild childhood
friend who became an unlikely hero, saving a woman
from a random battery acid attack at a club in Toronto.
“My friend is kind of a genius,” Erenberg says.
“He knew that if you take baking soda and water it
neutralizes acid burns…Here’s this guy that’s not one
for first impressions, and his first impression with this
lady was saving her life. Then, a few weeks after this
happened, he got into a snowmobile accident where
his sled got totally destroyed. He should have gotten
hurt very badly, but he came out of it completely
If that story of twisted fate wasn’t enough, there’s
even more tales to come from the half toe raconteur.
Aside from his new record and upcoming tour,
Erenberg says new material is in the works. While Poor
Mic’s Toe featured some revelry in the gloom, the next
one, he assures, will go in a heavier direction with feels
to match. Whatever the vibe, you’ll want to tune in.
Micah Erenberg performs on May 19 at Times
Change(d) High and Lonesome Club (Winnipeg), on
May 21 at the Capitol Music Club (Saskatoon), on May
22 at The Buckingham (Edmonton), on May 25 at The
Palomino Smokehouse (Calgary), on June 10 at The
Sewing Machine Factory (Edmonton), and on June 13
at Bo’s Bar & Grill (Red Deer). To purchase Micah Erenberg’s
latest album, Poor Mic’s Toe, visit micaherenberg.
Beth’s hypnotic sounds pull from the noirish
side of post-punk. With measured cutand-slash
riffs and dark lyrical imagery—
black snakes, rats, severed heads, blood and
desire—it’s a macabre universe that’s as creepy
as it is sensual.
Comprised of vocalist/guitarist Stefan Wolf and
bassist/guitarist Ken Prue (both of defunct postpunk
act Pop Crimes) and skinsman extraordinaire
Rob Gardiner (Figure Walking, Conduct), the
band’s debut self-titled release arrives on May 27,
featuring seven tracks that ooze Lynchian eeriness
and Nick Cave’s foreboding sung-spoken poetics.
Many of the tracks feel as if drawn from a nightmare
or hallucination, and according to Wolf, that’s
exactly where some of the material was derived
“Do you ever have weird premonitions in your
dreams and you wake up and those things are
happening? Wolf asks by phone from Winnipeg.
“I’m a skeptic in many aspects with those things,
but when things are staring you in the face… it’s
like I can’t define it, but I know the feeling, so I
think a lot of the lyricism was trying to define what
that feeling was and where it was coming from.”
The track “Center of the World,” centers on a
dream Wolf had when he was visiting his brother
in Vientiane, Laos. It speaks to that sense of cosmic
spookiness in a slow, creeping slither.
“I have a horrific phobia of snakes,” he says.
“I had this crazy dream where I woke up in this
room and there was this massive 10-metre-long
black snake that just started feasting on my legs
and it slowly consumed me… and I was like, ‘this is
At the time of writing the album, Wolf says
he was going through a “horrendous break-up,”
and that heaviness is certainly felt throughout
the record, particularly on the track, “Little
Smoke,” which revolves around the repetition of
love and obsession.
Beth’s foreboding sounds are spearheaded by vocalist Stefan Wolf.
by Julijana Capone
The song, Wolf says, grapples with understanding
“what is real and what is something you’ve
constructed, and if it really makes a difference if it’s
a truth or fallacy if the final outcome is the same.”
As Wolf explains, Beth’s anguished tone and
patient atmosphere was an intended shift from the
abrasive four-on-the-floor post-punk of their former
projects. Recorded at Collector Studios with
technicians Art Antony and Will Grierson, an array
of recording techniques were applied to create the
“We spent a lot of time writing, re-writing, and
knit-picking over single lines and guitar parts,” Wolf
While Wolf contributes guitar work to the
record, he sheds all instrumentation live, putting
his brooding vocals front and centre.
“When I first started practicing with the band
I thought I was going to be a lot more timid and
standoffish about everybody hearing my lyrics and
my voice, but it felt very organic,” he says.
“I was a guitar player for a long time, so just
having a microphone is a freeing experience.”
Along with the band’s attempt to create a
consistent sonic and lyrical mood, there was also a
conscious effort put towards the aesthetic of their
A full audio-visual experience that conveys the
seriousness of the record, on stage Beth’s members
are not the same dudes in T-shirts from projects of
yore, but rather a more sophisticated version—in
all black, of course.
Vampires are going to love this.
Beth perform on May 6 at Red Gate (Vancouver),
May 10 at Heck Haus (Lethbridge), May 11 at The
Sewing Machine Factory (Edmonton), May 12 at
Tubby Dog (Calgary), May 13 at Amigos (Saskatoon),
and May 27 at Crescent Fort Rouge United
Church (Winnipeg). To purchase Beth’s new album,
photo: Georgia Morrison
BEATROUTE • MAY 2017 | 33
Toronto-born DJ/producer brings underground buzz
by Jamie McNamara
With releases on labels like Will Saul’s
Aus Music, Dusky’s 17 Steps and Fort
Romeau’s Cin Cin, Toronto-born, Berlin-based
DJ and producer Bwana may just be the
most exciting young name in dance music at the
moment. Electronic Beats named him one of “10
DJs Who Will Definitely Break Through in 2017”
and one look at his already impressive resume
makes it easy to understand why.
Two years after making the move from his
hometown Toronto to techno mecca Berlin, the
26-year-old producer born Nathan Micay has
found himself with a handful of new releases. He’s
been making regular appearances at legendary
clubs like Berghain and fabric, and developed a fitness-training
program for DJs and music industry
friends that strive for a body by Bwana.
Over Skype from Berlin, Micay (who is possibly
the first DJ to have a protein shake made for him
during a Boiler Room set) talks about his multidisciplinary
lifestyle and his recent foray into the
personal training racket.
“[Bodies by Bwana] is very comical. It started as
a joke, but it’s gotten to the point now that it actually
takes up a lot of my time,” he says, acknowledging
the absurdity of the situation.
“I just keep going with it. I’m going to go with
it until I literally can’t find the time to do it
Luckily for us, Micay’s focus is still on his music
and his newly released Three Way Is The Hard
Way EP is proof. It’s an EP of tracks that sit firmly
in the “trance revival” that most techno producers
would shy away from.
“It’s definitely pretty breakbeats-ish. I’ve been
getting into that lately, but it’s certainly not going
to be a thing that I linger on,” says Micay in a
nonchalant manner that indicates the unwillingness
to be grouped into the neat categories genre
While Three Way Is The Hard Way basks in nostalgia,
it still feels forward thinking and genre defiant,
something that Bwana has become known for.
“I think dance music in general right now is
looking towards the past in like every respect,”
“Dance music in itself is going through a
repetition of the ‘90s with the sort of superstar
DJ era. Maybe there’s some sort of synchronicity
between not only the music, but also the sort of
ethos of it.”
Unlike some of the underground dance communities
staunch futurists, Micay doesn’t see
cyclical trends as a negative.
“Even myself in the last year I’ve found so
much good music through labels like Dark Entries,
Minimal Wave, and guys like Young Marco
reissuing all these tracks. That is timeless and if
people can sort of take those elements mixed
with modern technology and accessibility to
workstations, who knows what they’ll come up
with? I think that’s pretty much how I’ve done
my career up to this point.”
You can catch Bwana at The Hifi Club on May 4
photo: Brana Lalin and Johnathan Micay
Bwana offers a progressive take on techno.
BEATROUTE • MAY 2017 | 35
embracing mentorship with North American tour by Jamie McNamara
Apologies for last month’s lack of a column
to all of you who were distraught and UZ will be rumbling through the Hifi Club
Two of traps biggest juggernauts ATLiens
and suddenly felt an unexplainable on May 13.
void in your life in the wake of its absence. Also on the 13, over at Commonwealth, is
Here’s hoping we can just move forward and NYC’s Princess Nokia: a rising star in the new
start to put the pieces back together. Here is school of R&B and hip-hop. A great chance to
the next column and it’s gonna be not only check out some fresh and exciting new talent
May, but also really lit. Maybe have a flame and simultaneously turn the fuck up.
retardant blanket handy.
On May 21 at Hiifi, Stööki Sound brings
Starting things off with a high-tempo their fresh take on bass music back to Calgary,
bang, Electric Disco present Temple of Boom this time partnering up with another of UK’s
featuring drum and bass legends Ed Rush & best Joker. The former is credited with creating
Optical, Friction and an exciting new jack
the tripped-out, ecstasy inducing “purple”
on the scene Voltage. Gotta love these big sound of dubstep and, if I’m not mistaken, the
triple bookings! Yet another testament to the last two time he was scheduled to play here,
overall excellence of Calgary’s D’N’B scene. he was forced to cancel due to Visa issues.
Fingers crossed for this time ‘round!
May 11 you can catch Addison Groove
Closing out the month is the return of
at Habitat. This artist was formerly known as Versions, a family friendly dance party that
Headhunter, one of the pioneers of the sound. brings the sounds of underground techno into
Under the new’ish moniker, he plays the
the sunny skies of Broken City’s lovely patio.
sounds that influenced him later in his dubstep “Curated for good vibes only,” says organizer
days like Chicago juke and acid house. Booty of the now four-year-old event Isis Graham,
bouncin’ shit, is all you really need to know. A.K.A. Esette, who will be playing alongside
The following day you can catch L.A.’s some of the city’s veterans and newcomers
Wuki, representing Diplo’s Mad Decent alike.
records and will be spinning club-friendly
Keep on dancin’ my glittery amigos! Catch
breaks, house and booty bass for your dancing me in June, how bow dah?
• Paul Rogers
Bringing underground dance music to the masses.
photo: Ben Friedlander
It’s hard to think of a better time than now for Eats
Everything, the English DJ born Daniel Pearce, to
do a Western Canadian trek. The Bristolian house
music veteran has rightfully been on the minds
of club-goers since he rose to prominence with
“Entrance Song” in 2011. His dance floor focused
releases have always been a good fit for Western
Canadian crowds, given that we go wild for house
music with an emphasis on low end. With a new
release on Dirtybird and a new show on BBC Radio 1
under his belt, the timing was perfect for a return.
That aforementioned return to Dirtybird is a
two track collaborative effort with freshman producer
Lord Leopard titled Clash of the Tight-Uns.
It’s been a few years since the San Francisco label
led by Claude VonStroke welcomed the talents of
“I’ve been wanting to release on the label again for
a while now, but touring and having a young family
gets in the way sometimes and I haven’t been able
to produce as much as I’d like to. When I made “War
Rhythm” with Lord Leopard, I knew straight away that
this would be perfect for Dirtybird,” says Pearce.
In Lord Leopard, Pearce has found a young collaborator
that mirrors his own start in the scene. For Pearce,
acting as a mentor for young talent is something that
he treats with a humble respect.
“It’s amazing to be able to be in a position where
I have a platform to support upcoming artists that I
love. I was once that guy who would relentlessly send
demos to my favourite labels in hope that they would
get picked up so I can relate to them.”
Pearce is bringing Lord Leopard with him when he
comes to Western Canada, something that will undeniably
help the young talent gain traction in a North
American market that is constantly becoming more
accepting of broader electronic tastes.
“It was hard to break into the North America at first
as it’s predominantly an EDM scene and the crowds are
filled with ‘bros,’” says Pearce.
“It is changing though, definitely becoming a
lot more accepting of the underground - there’s so
many incredible parties happening in the U.S. now
especially in places like New York, Chicago, Miami
Outside of club culture, Pearce’s new show on BBC
Radio 1 has allowed him a new audience that brings a
refreshing change from DJing.
“For my shows, I like to program music that highlights
upcoming artists, music I’ve recently found and
my favourite tracks. It’s different from playing a DJ set
as I’m not trying to get the crowd dancing or portray a
certain mood in my radio show, it’s all about showcasing
the music I love,” he says.
You can catch Eats Everything at The Hifi Club on
May 18 (Calgary) or at Celebrities Nightclub on May
Catch genre-bending booty bouncer Addison Groove at Habitat on May 11.
photo: Michael Benz
36 | MAY 2017 • BEATROUTE JUCY
building a home for your new favorite artist
by Jackie Klapak
A U21 initiative helmed by an U18 musician.
photo: Keaghan Harrison
If you feel like you’ve been seeing the same faces
at the same shows, you probably are. Unfortunately,
it’s partially because there is an entire
generation of audiences and players that are facing
an institutional inability to see and participate
in music in our city. With a lack of venue support
for young and developing musicians, youth are
unsure of where to go and how to start. But now
the kids are making a comeback, and are prepared
to promote and popularize the underage scene.
For about two hours on the third Monday of
every month, down on the newly minted Music
Mile, The Blues Can plays host to Blues’cool, a
youth created and managed initiative which
encourages people 21 and under to showcase their
musical talents. It gives participants a feel for taking
their talents from the bedroom to a real stage.
It’s helmed by the Youth Musicians of Music Mile
Alliance – who goes by the moniker YoMomma –
which was created by Kate Stevens. An ambitious
and vivacious 17-year-old singer-songwriter, she
was driven by her own struggles as an underage
musician and hopes to get more kids actively
involved in the all ages scene.
“The goal is connect, educate, and perform,” Stevens
tells BeatRoute. “We want to expand kid’s skills
With a desire to connect like-minded kids,
Stevens and her YoMomma crew ‘band’ together to
encourage those ready to take their favourite hobby
“Playing my guitar is my way of life and I couldn’t
imagine doing anything else,” says Stevens. “I don’t
want to be just another girl with a YouTube channel. I
want to be out there playing shows.”
The mission of YoMomma, with the help of the
Music Mile, is to create an audience and a future by
getting the underagers inspired and on stage. Music
Mile is a non-government initiative grown from the
streets of residential Inglewood, and for them it was
only natural to make room for the kids.
“Music Mile didn’t create music in this stretch, we
simply just but an amp on it,” explains Bob Charitier,
the unofficial ‘Mayor’ of Music Mile.
“Music Mile is to say ‘live music is the king’ and
making it accessible to kids and growing audiences.”
Blues’cool is the first youth inclusive initiative
grown from Music Mile. Hoping to excite kids and get
them playing, and having learned what it’s like to play
as a serious musician from an early age, Stevens is also
hoping to inspire adults. While it may seem “irresponsible”
to let kids play at a bar somewhere downtown,
Stevens and her self-described “mom-ager,” Lisa Phernambucq
assure parents it’s completely safe. Getting
kids doing what they love, and supporting them, is
one of the initiative’s main goals.
The process of the jam is simple and has already
proved to be a welcoming training ground for young
musicians. Though Blues’cool has only been happening
since September, musicians as young as 10 have
continued to come out and surprise not only family,
but audiences too, with their confidence and skill.
“Kids can come prepared, or hop on stage whenever
they feel inspired,” Stevens attests. “It’s incredible to
watch what these kids are capable of.”
With a regular crew of 10 kids of varying ages
who routinely come out to jam with each other, the
possibilities are increasing commensurately with the
amount of jammers.
Despite the title of “Blues’cool,” the jam is not
purely exclusive to those looking to excel in roots
and blues. With musical talents ranging across
genres, the aim of getting youth onstage is to let
them experiment with their craft and find a unique
sound they can call theirs. By having a judgment free
zone for youth to play, comfortable and astonishing
collaborations happen all the time, including an
improvised swing version of The White Stripes Seven
With a continually growing audience courtesy of
word-of-mouth and social media outreach through
Music Mile, the jam has progressively brought in new
faces, new sounds, and new styles. But this is just the
start! Kate hopes to not only extend the jam to twice
a month, but also move out into other communities
and other stages.
“It’s hard to be a musician and a kid. We’re not
allowed in bars, so where exactly are we supposed to
play?” Stevens opines.
Although the initiative has already caught some attention,
YoMomma isn’t yet close to where they want
to be. They are currently seeking skilled volunteers,
such as sound technicians and musicians, to help
teach and inspire. More than anything, the organization
is looking for open-minded venues.
The if-you-build-it-they-will-come mentality is far
from dead. With initiatives such as YoMomma, the
potential to build a musically rich city that accommodates
all ages is closer than we think.
Buy your kid that drum set or that Ableton live
set-up, your new favourite musician could be the one
you made yourself.
Blues’cool takes place monthly at the Blues Can (Calgary),
the next edition is on May 15th.
38 | MAY 2017 • BEATROUTE ROOTS
GREGORY ALAN ISAKOV
what can a folk singer do with an army of strings?
“I’m still scratching my head making sure that actually happened.”
Except for his 15 minutes of McDonald’s
commercial fame (it was the one where the
couple makes their Christmas tree from moving
boxes before chowing down), Gregory Alan Isakov
doesn’t have any ‘radio hits.’ It’s probably because
it’s difficult to find anything resembling a chorus in
his songs. Despite this, the Colorado resident has
managed to achieve a respectable degree of success.
He’s had a strong series of sold-out shows across
Europe and North America, and has been touring
and performing for well over a decade.
Isakov, who has never signed to a major label, releases
his albums on his own label, dubbed Suitcase
Town Records. He now has four full-length releases;
he is grateful that his songwriting has allowed him
the opportunity to perform in front of consistently
gracious audiences. A master of using space and
sound to evoke vivid feelings, his latest release Gregory
Alan Isakov with The Colorado Symphony
brought him to number one on the iTunes Singer
Songwriter chart. It also helped him realize a lifelong
dream of performing with a full orchestra. As symphony
orchestras struggle across the United States
due to a lack of funding, he believes the album has
been beneficial for both him and the symphonies
he performed with, having drawn attention to their
existence to folk music listeners.
“They don’t often get to play to a packed house,”
Isakov laments, noting the loss of interest and funding
for music available in his country.
The album started out as an idea for a live performance,
and ended up evolving into an 11-track album
featuring new arrangements of his songs from his
previous three releases. This resulted in Isakov and his
band mates performing with symphonies in Atlanta,
Vermont, and Philadelphia in the spring of 2016, as
well as a performance with The National Symphony
Orchestra in D.C. in June of that year.
Of the experience, he admits, “I’m still scratching my
by Zachary Moon
photo: Blue Caleel
head making sure that actually happened.”
The fresh arrangements helped the songs take on
“Any sense of time that we were attached to had
to be gone,” Isakov describes of the “ocean of sound”
created during the recording. Although the album
features a full orchestra, the welcoming nature of
Isakovs guitar-centred folk songwriting is not lost.
The orchestra never becomes the focal point of the
songs, only adding texture and warmth, blending in
seamlessly. This is particularly apparent on “Liars,” a
song written by Ron Scott. Sprinkled with imagery of
baseball cards and swing sets, it starts off small like a
flame from a slow burning tea-light. With the support
of the orchestra, it eventually morphs into a metaphorical
roman candle firing shots wildly into the sky. Many
of the songs slowly build to a climax in this fashion,
leaving listeners lost amidst Isakov’s spare and meaningful
lyrics. The effect is formidable, resulting in force
of sound that serves to dig Isakov’s already affecting
songs deeper into the tresses of listener’s minds.
“The crowd we have accrued is the most wonderful
part of it,” Isakov tells us.
“People that really love music… love listening.”
Although he is no longer performing with a symphony
behind him, Isakov’s linear style of songwriting,
combined with sparse and tasteful instrumentation,
serves to create a space inside of the songs that a listener
can comfortably nestle into. The effect of his band is
different, but equally entrancing.
The laid-back songwriter suggests this is no accident.
“With all of my records I use space as such an ally.”
He concludes, “I am always constantly taking stuff
out and creating an atmosphere.”
Gregory Alan Isakov will be performing on May 4th at
the Imperial (Vancouver) and on May 5th at Commonwealth
Bar & Stage (Calgary) with Sera Cahoone. Both
shows are sold out.
harder than the hardest stone, heavier than you know
Sometimes there are gems buried in the
bedrock underneath your feet…. Like when
you discover that a waitress at your work
is an incredible singer-songwriter. Larissa Tandy
is a gem, a hard cobalt blue crystal, raw and
unpolished. From Vancouver via Melbourne,
Tandy released the uncompromising and gritty
debut LP The Grip on April 28 and she’s holding
It’s hard not to instantly draw a comparison to
fellow Australian Courtney Barnett, but that would
be a disservice to the complexities and nuances in
Tandy’s music. At times moody and baroque, at
others raucous and rugged, The Grip is a vivid document
of her struggles over an 18-month period.
“To say these songs came out of a difficult
time is an understatement. When I wasn’t
in and out of hospital, I was in and out of a
lawyer’s office. I was fighting for my health, and
fighting to keep my home, and everyone I loved
was dying in horrible ways.”
Perhaps a more apt musical comparison could
be found in Canadiana; the album is reminiscent of
works by Carolyn Mark, Sarah Harmer, and Kathleen
Edwards with it’s shuffling drums, slow guitar,
and melancholic vocals. It’s singer-songwriter style
music, with a touch of country, roots, soul, and
indie all wrapped up in one. Unsurprising then that
the latter two Canadian musicians have a very literal
connection to Tandy in the form of a musician
and producer Jim Bryson, who recorded The Grip.
Bryson also recorded Harmer and Edwards, as well
as occasionally performing with them.
“When my paperwork for Canada came
Larissa Tandy released The Grip on April 28th.
by Sean Orr
through, I was halfway through making a record.
I arrived here with bits of nine songs and not sure
what to do with them, and I was worrying about
it, worried about making music at all really. Maybe
the Australianness in my music would be too foreign
and too weird in this context,” recalls Barnett.
“I dived into Canadian records, found a bunch
I loved, and tried to work out who was involved.
Jim’s name came up a few times, and then I found
out he’d worked with someone I know back in
Australia. I e-mailed him, he rang me, and we
decided to make a record together. Now I love
him like a brother.”
Despite a difficult time adjusting to her new
homeland, it appears things are starting to work
out for Tandy. Vancouver is infamous for being
a hard city to meet people, but that seems to be
changing. Tandy expands,
“It’s been a bit lonely, and hard to break into
socially, but I feel like it’s slowly starting to work
out. I’ve met some incredible people here.”
And working out it is, as the CBC recognized
her in their “Songs you need to Hear” feature.
Her momentum continues to gather, and in
2017 she makes the move to Music City Nashville
as the recipient of the prestigious Nashville
It appears this is one gem that is currently being
Tandy performs on May 9th at The Slice (Lethbridge),
May 11 at The Needle Vinyl (Edmonton),
May 14th at the Drift (Saskatoon), and May 16th at
the Capital Club (Saskatoon).
BEATROUTE • MAY 2017 | 39
incendiary death metal trio returns, levelling cities to dust
by James Baragar
The best extreme metal show of the month is headlined by Ares Kingdom.
and I being in (legendary
American black/death act) Order
From Chaos (OFC) definitely helps
the band. A lot of people know us because of that
band, and that’s fine. We’re never gonna get out
from under that shadow.”
This succinctly sums up the inextricable link
between OFC and Ares Kingdom, both of which
contain(ed) guitarist Chuck Keller. Historian by trade,
he was the guitarist of OFC for the entirety of their
triumphant reign and he now spearheads thrashy
death metal act Ares Kingdom, which operates out of
“Besides,” he continues, “it’s not like we’re trying
to outrun our history. And really, the two bands are
While there would be equal parts agreement and
argument in any discussion about the two bands,
they aren’t all that different.
“If I played you an OFC song and then an Ares
Kingdom song, you’d see how similar the two are. If
anything, I think OFC is comparatively immature.”
And yet, the only thing that really sets the two
apart is the production values. OFC’s incredibly
lo-fi production, which has inspired legions of
war metal bands, is the perpetual subject of
“We wanted to follow in the footsteps of Venom
and Sodom and Voivod, stuff like that. That production
is my fault and I hate myself for it everyday.
I can’t even listen to [1992’s fan favourite] Stillbirth
Machine because of it! I remember my first thought
when I put it on in my car was ‘What is this! Did
someone kick a hornet’s nest?! Were these drums
recorded on an AM transistor radio?!’”
Chuck and [drummer] Mike [Miller] formed
Ares Kingdom while OFC was winding down, and
like a soldier rising from private to sergeant, they
aged and matured (and probably earned some
incurable PTSD for their troubles, as well. What
happens on tour stays on tour).
As the saying goes…. with age comes wisdom, a
ruined back, and significantly better production. This
was skilfully showcased on their first few EPs and ultimately,
their first full-length, 2006’s Return to Dust.
It really is amazing how much of a difference the
production makes. While OFC’s debut features a
guitar tone that sounds like a swarm of locusts large
enough to block the sun, and an overall sound so
murky it could be legally classified as ‘mud,’ Ares
Kingdom’s debut stands in stark contrast. It boasts a
sound so full, robust, and balanced it would fool nine
out of ten coffee aficionados if you ground up a CD
instead of the coffee beans.
Their newest album, 2015’s The Unburiable Dead,
is a semi-concept album about the First World War.
Rather than telling the story using characters and
traditional storytelling techniques, The Unburiable
Dead focuses less on a particular event, instead taking
a holistic approach.
“I tried to take kind of a far reaching approach to
the topic of the war. So the songs are a bit episodic,
yeah. When we first did the album, I was resistant
to the idea of it being a concept album, so I have to
take a step back and admit it kind of is. It is, but it
isn’t,” says Keller.
Writing the lyrics in a neutral voice also wasn’t an
“In a way, the history that we know of is skewed,
due to a lot of it not being [completed] until the ‘60s.
So some of it served a political purpose, especially in
the anti-war 1960s,” says the historian.
Musically, the album remains very much in
the style they had shown on their two previous
albums. The guitar riffs leave bayonet wounds,
the vocals are overwhelming in their fury, the
drums hammer down like the shelling at the
infamous Battle of Somme, and the bass rumbles
the ground like the impending arrival of a tank.
All this is despite the departure of their second
guitarist Doug Overbay in 2015. He left due to
long-term health issues.
“There is a camaraderie that’s missing, but fans
have also told us that there seems to be very little
missing in terms of aggression and fundamental
feeling of our show, which is fantastic to hear.”
Though the five-year wait between previous
album Incendiary and The Unburiable Dead was
gruelling, fans won’t have to wait that long for the
“I’ve almost finished the next album. I’ve got about
85 per cent written, and I know what the rest of it
needs to be, so it’s really just a question of putting
everything in its place,” reveals Keller.
Although each album is similar, and can be
easily identified as Ares Kingdom, there is a
song writing standard that will be continually
“It’s gonna be in the Ares Kingdom style, frankly. If
anything, it’s gonna be darker,” says Keller.
“The stuff we’ve rehearsed for it has made Mike
and [bassist Alex Blume] take a step back and say
[that it is darker] and more aggressive than anything
we’ve done so far.”
As far lyrical content goes, the only spoiler Keller
would provide is the information that the subject
wouldn’t revolve around a historical period one
“I remember about 30 years ago, [hardcore band]
English Dogs had a song, on [1984’s] Invasion of the
Porky Men, where one of the lyrics is “Why doesn’t
anyone sing about World War II?” which is funny,
looking back, cause now everyone has something
about World War II. It’s not that I have no interest on
it, it’s just too overdone and cliché.”
Ares Kingdom play the Mercury Room on June 1
(Edmonton) and Distortion on June 2 (Calgary). Both
shows have support from Phylactery, Pathetic, and
BEATROUTE • MAY 2017 | 41
no gods. no idols. no stagediving
“We’re just gonna play music... that’s what people want.”
It’s not easy catching up with John ‘Bloodclot’
Joseph McGowan. The triathlete, hardcore pundit
and frontman to the legendary punk outfit Cro-
Mags has been a provocative mover-shaker since the
early ‘80s and yet still possesses enough endurance
to run an Ironman marathon and then crowd surf
until dawn. McGowan’s current trifecta of Herculean
tasks includes recording with his other band (Bloodclot),
crisscrossing the country to perform with his
long-time act and promoting the re-release of his
soul baring 2007 autobiography The Evolution of a
Cro-Magnon. All this has left him with little time for
“Sorry, I’m on the road,” McGowan explains of his
“I left my phone in one place in L.A. and then I was
running around and then I had a meeting where I had to
have my phone off.”
And, his wallet?
Safely chained to his leg, thanks.
“That’s funny, I was just in El Segundo! We stayed at
Venice Beach, but we went to the veggie restaurants in El
Segundo. Not a place I really wanna live... It’s not my style; I
love New York.”
Yes, he does love New York. And if a McGowan-led
walking tour of the boroughs doesn’t confirm it, then
the gritty accounts provided in his paperback will.
Despite having been published a decade ago, interest
in McGowan’s ascension to punk rock infamy has not
“Well, it’s been 10 years and I always wanted to put out
more copies,” he notes.
“We did 10000 copies on our own, but everybody’s been
askin’, because it’s hard to get and people were charging
three or four hundred dollars for it online and ripping people
off. So, I thought, ‘alright let’s put out a digital edition
and a small print run so everybody can get a copy.’ And
then, you know, I had to update some stuff, put in some
new pictures and a new afterword to bring it up to date a
little bit. I also redid the audiobook which is 19 hours!”
Editing his autobiography again brought up some
vivid memories for the headstrong singer, but it also
reaffirmed that the past, no matter how checkered, is
still very much a part of his every day existence.
by Christine Leonard
“I guess if anything, that’s what you can take away from
my whole story. You’ve got to fight through the bad stuff
in life and not give up. And that’s kinda been my story
since I was a kid.”
Crediting his Hare Krishna background and a vegan
lifestyle with setting him on the path to spiritual contentment,
the straight-edged vocalist’s focus remains firmly
fixed on uplifting the band’s performance and reputation.
“My role is to just do what I’ve always done, and that is
go out and play the songs to the best of my ability and not
make excuses. That’s why I choose to stay sober and bring
that energy to the stage every night. And that’s why who’s
in the band is and who ain’t ain’t. It’s for a reason that this
line-up exists. We’ve got (drummer) Mackie Jayson who
played on the records, and (guitarist) A.J. Novello been in
the band since ‘92, and Craig Scully (Sick of It All), or this
cat Casey who fills in when he’s not available,” John Joseph
continues. “And, I was there since ‘81.”
Okay. Here we go.
“Although a lot of people say it was ‘84. It wasn’t. It was
‘81, when the band first started.”
It’s the original punk rock soap opera. Who started what
when? Everyone has their own version of events, but all
concerned agree that Cro-Mag’s September 1986 debut
Age of Quarrel, and to a lesser degree 1989’s Best Wishes
(both on Profile Records), embodied and informed the
emerging East Coast hardcore scene. The raw and raucous,
yet true-to-life, songs attracted ardent fans and left an
indelible impression (cough) on fellow musicians with their
street savvy punk/metal riffs.
“It’s taken a while with all of the damage that was done
to the band by other individuals doing crummy shows and
starting fights with fans and doing stupid shit,” rails Mc-
Gowan. “It’s taken a good 10 years to build the good name
of the Cro-Mags back and that’s what we’ve done. That’s
why the last two runs that we did were completely soldout
every night, ‘cuz they know that we’re gonna come out
there and, we’re not gonna talk shit, we’re just gonna play
music. And that’s what people want.”
Cro-Mags perform May 26th at the Needle Vinyl Tavern
(Edmonton), May 27th at the Marquee Beer Market &
Stage (Calgary), and on Sunday, May 28th at the Rickshaw
new sludge trio unleash debut
There’s a justifiable fear induced by
the news of a brand new band that
features members of acts that are
or were face meltingly excellent. Enter
Featuring members of WAKE, I Die
Screaming, and Seminary, the trio is Calgary’s
newest sludge project. Helmed by guitarist Rob
LaChance, drummer/vocalist Ryan Kennedy,
and bassist/vocalist Will Bjorndahl, the band
integrated something unlikely and wonderfully
different into their tunes: a grinding, noise-oriented
harshness that steers their music into
bizarre and unnerving territory. It’s an excellent
juxtaposition of genres that coalesces to fantastic
effect on their self-titled debut, released
on April 28 via Sentient Ruin.
Reminiscent of now defunct eastern
Canadian act Buried Inside combined with the
relentless harshness of American act Primitive
Man (PM), the album is a group effort that
triggers connections to its creators past bands.
The Primitive Man connection is particularly
salient, given that LaChance toured with the
band in his grind act WAKE.
“I suppose there are small similarities
between Mind Mold and PM but honestly I
don’t really think that we’re doing anything
THAT similar, I suppose we both play slower
music but to me it’s in vastly different styles,”
“But that being said, I’d be lying if I
said that touring with PM didn’t steer me
towards playing slower riffs/music: those
Mind Mold’s cassette is available now.
by Sarah Kitteringham
dudes crush and are great friends.”
With cold, eerie production, the unsettling
atmosphere is reminiscent of releases done
by Calgary’s own Eschaton Industries, a label
helmed by Cowpuncher’s Jordan Lane in the
“I started that label with him,” explains Kennedy.
The label has previously released albums
by Cold Craving, Holzkopf, and a split with
Putrescence and I Die Screaming.
“We also played in a band together called I
Die Screaming. It was cold, and eerie, certainly,”
“The production [on Mind Mold] is
probably about as eerie but less cold. It’s a
Lyrically, the themes are cerebral.
“The recording mostly focuses on the
sanctity of the human mind in various forms,”
For example, “Viceregal Inhumation” focuses
on how “words become something different
once enacted, and how our minds form them
rarely resembles their ramifications.”
The combination of all of the above
factors results in an album that is sonically
and intellectually intriguing, and worthy of
Mind Mold released their self-titled EP on
cassette on April 28 through Sentient Ruin Laboratories;
you can order online at https://sentientruin.bandcamp.com/album/mind-mold.
The band will be performing live this summer.
42 | MAY 2017 • BEATROUTE SHRAPNEL
May is shaping up to be ridiculously
crammed with album releases, shows,
Head to Dickens in Calgary on Thursday, May 4
for the return of power metal legends Hammerfall.
They’ll be performing with Delain and new Calgary
act Ravenous: Eternal Hunger. The quintet is hot
off the release of their debut EP, which came out
on January 18. The recording is ripe with sing-along
inducing power metal anthems.
“We blend European and American heavy/
power metal and draw our influences from Dio
to Slough Feg, Sabaton to Ghost, Grand Magus
to Candlemass,” explains band leader Rav, who
previously masterminded thrash metal outfit Villainizer.
This outfit is a strong departure from the
Carnivore-esque approach of his previous band.
“Both my life and my musical creativity have
changed over the years. For me, it’s like the villain
becoming the hero; that’s what Ravenous represents.”
From May 12 until May 14, ShrEdmonton
Metal Festival & Conference will be going down
in (you guessed it) Edmonton. With shows happening
at the Mercury Room on each night, the
second rendition of the festival will include performances
by Psychotic Gardening, Blëed, Unleash
the Archers, Disturb the Dead, Leave the
Living, Sleeping in Traffic, Gatekeeper, WMD,
and many more. In addition to performances,
the festival features an all-ages conference from
12 p.m. until 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 13th that
includes panels on publicity, recording, and other
relevant topics, as well as sound clinics. Tickets
for the entire weekend are $50 in advance. They
can be purchased online at http://shredmonton.
com/ or obtained from the Mercury Room, the
Rendezvous Pub, the Soundhouse (Red Deer), or
Speaking of Gatekeeper, the now Vancouver
based epic metal band will be performing in
Calgary on Friday, May 12th for the first time since
2014. Joining them are Vancouver death thrashers
Assimilation, who are on their Laws of Power
album release tour. Hazzerd and speed metal trio
Martial Law (who’ve been laying low for quite
some time) will be kicking off the madness. Tickets
are $10 in advance, or $15 at the door. This will
likely be one of the best gigs in Calgary this month,
don’t miss it.
Speaking of fantastic shows: Saskatoon based
instru-metal act Shooting Guns will be performing
with The Weir and Monolith on Friday, May 19
at the Palomino Smokehouse and Bar (Calgary).
Meanwhile, Trollband will be performing at
Distortion alongside Without Mercy, Scythia, and
Meggido. The following evening, they’ll perform
at the Mercury Room (Edmonton) with Scythia,
Arctos, and Mustakettu. Advance tickets are $12,
and it goes to $15 at the door.
Also on Saturday, May 20, Tubby Dog will host a
show featuring Kamloops based hardcore punk act
Watchdog. They’ll be performing with Regional
Justice Centre, Gawker, and Enemies. The gig is $8
at the door.
Tech death madness will invade Winnipeg at the
Park Theatre on Monday, May 22nd when Tasmanian-based
brutal tech act Psycroptic perform with
Vancouver’s own Archspire, alongside Visceral
Disgorge and Seeker. The same lineup hits Vangelis
Tavern on May 23 (Saskatoon), Dickens on May
24 (Calgary), and the Rickshaw Theatre on May 25
Head to Broken City in Calgary on May 28 for
local grindcore legends Exit Strategy. They’ll be
performing with Burning Effigy, Repugnant
Scum, and Flashback. Tickets are $8 at the door.
• Sarah Kitteringham
Ravenous: Eternal Hunger performs on May 4.
photo: Monika Deviat
BEATROUTE • MAY 2017 | 43
Universal Music Canada
For any avid listener, Feist has always provided
a gateway into one’s own turmoil. Although she
writes for herself, the Canadian songstress has
a way of translating her internal dialogue into
relatable fodder by way of her venerable falsetto.
Where her breakout album The Reminder skyrocketed
her career, and turned her into an international
pop star, follow-up Metals pushed back
against that mould, garnering her critical acclaim
and 2012’s Polaris Music prize. Six years later, she
has returned—in full Feist force—with Pleasure.
It's difficult reviewing Feist's music because the
question that looms runs along these lines: “Is this
going to be a ‘one for her, or one for her fans’ type
situation?” The truth is, it’s hard to say. There’s
skeletal frameworks of radio-ready hits on the
album, but they lack the polish or obvious-charm
of her earlier work.
This is of course intentional. Feist is too skilled
a songwriter and musician for it not to be. On
Pleasure, she wanted to create and record songs in
their rawest, purest forms. As is expected, there’s
plenty of hissing guitar and echo throughout.
The album is shaped similarly to Metals: there’s
no major stand outs, but thematically, and as one
piece of work, it holds strong. What it lacks, in
comparison to her previous work, is the expansiveness
of sound and the presence of many hands in
production. She’s achieved her goal of entrenching
the album with humanity, but that also gives the
album a harshness that could be divisive.
In an interview with Pitchfork, she said, “It was
about wanting to make sure I was making another
record because I needed to do it and not because
it’s just what I’ve done so far.” One that point, you
could count this as an album for her. It’s an album
for one to get lost to and with – there’s a warmth
throughout it, it’s just not obvious. If Feist’s going
to be the pop star many want her to be, it’ll be on
her terms and in her way.
On “A Man is Not His Song,” Feist slides over a
soft guitar line, as the song builds up to a choir of
voices, echoing behind her... “We all heard those
old melodies (like they’re singing right to me.” The
song then ends with a Mastodon guitar riff: an
abrasive antithesis to the rest of the song’s framework,
and a disruption of the peace inherent. The
album is meditative throughout, inviting guests
just when you’ve hit solitude.
Four test pressings of the album’s vinyl are, at
the time of writing this, intended to be released to
fans, who were asked to describe their ideal listening
party scenario. But this album’s probably best
enjoyed alone, or in a small group and an intimate
setting, there’s no celebration quite like “1234” or
other uplifting Feist moments.
Pleasure, however, is no less loud than she’s
been, complete with hand clapping and choral
chants throughout. “Any Party” perfectly stages
the nervousness and excitement one feels returning
home to a town and old friends you used to
know. It’s a mix of pleasure and loss, syncopated by
blues guitar and mild distortion. It even ends with
you leaving, the door creaking, crickets in the air
as you enjoy the solitude that comes after. There
are so many unexpected elements and moments
within moments throughout Pleasure.
“Pleasure” and “I am Not Running Away,” see Feist
embodying the rock goddess she could easily be.
Like PJ Harvey, she sounds at home drawling with
harsh guitar. The album’s title track and lead single
is so carnal, you can almost feel your body pushing
up against someone else’s in the moment. “I am Not
Running Away,” has her singing like a late-night dive
bar crooner, a lamentation for her independence.
Each song could be Feist’s pop-friendly moment,
but each song has some element that pushes it
or distorts it so that it’s not quite complete. In
“Pleasure,” she brings you where you think the
song will climax, only to pull it away from you. “I
Wish I Didn’t Miss You,” is a structured, tragic song
about heartbreak. The reverb on her voice distorts
her words to a loneliness and timelessness. This is
anyone’s heartbreak, but also anyone’s retribution
– coming to terms with your own weakness.
Tweeting about the album she said, “The
experience of pleasure is mild or deep, sometimes
temporal, sometimes a sort of low grade lasting,
usually a motivator.” This is true for all of it. It’s
less about pleasure than the anticipation leading
up to it, it’s the work in service of the reward. And
there’s definitely Pleasure in that.
• Trent Warner
illustration: An Nguyen
BEATROUTE • MAY 2017 | 45
Parlaphone / Warner Bros.
Gorillaz fans have been waiting a long time for a new album. The
group’s last full-scale effort, Plastic Beach, released back in 2010, was a
cohesive collection of well-crafted singles met with critical and commercial
Though, Gorillaz is not just music. The ‘band’ themselves is a virtual
one comprised of cartoon characters. 2-D, Murdoc, Noodle and Russ
make up the animated band while former Blur frontman, Damon
Albarn (who voices 2-D), is the only permanent musical fixture and
comic book artist Jamie Hewlett creates the majority of the group’s
There’s been a lot of hype built-up around this release, through
social media, endless singles, VR apps, listening parties and 350$ deluxe
editions. Humanz has not lived up to it.
Albarn describes this album as a soundtrack for a party at the end
of the world. For the most part, it succeeds in conveying this theme.
“Ascension,” the opening non-interlude track, sets the tone brilliantly.
The sirens, chants and breakneck beat that accompany rapper Vince
Staples’ racially-driven imagery showcases one of the few instances on
the album where all the many elements form a cohesive whole.
Humanz sees Gorillaz’ normally-excellent fusion and disregard for
genre fall apart.
On “Momentz,” De La Soul compete with an overdone bass beat
out of a mid-aughts club, AutoTune from the worst pop tracks of that
era, and a scream-singing group of children before it cuts extremely
abruptly to a psychedelic-pop beat with Russ and Murdoc talking
It leads into one of the album’s many pointless interludes, this one
about a middle-school-angst-fueled “Non-Conformist Oath.” All of
these interludes feel extremely unnecessary and strangely only transition
from the pre- and proceeding tracks on occasion, breaking up the
flow of the album quite a bit.
Other notable lowlights include the tonally-confused “Submission,”
the forgettable and awfully-titled “Sex Murder Party,” and the
obnoxious “Charger.” One all of these tracks as well as many others on
Humanz, the production isn’t nearly as layered as what we’ve come to
expect from the band.
Gorillaz knack for crafting a compelling track does shine through
on some tracks, though. 2-D introducing himself to the album amidst
the Popcaan-fueled trap/dancehall chaos of “Saturnz Barz” is one of
the group’s very best musical moments across their entire discography.
“She’s My Collar” and “Andromeda” are both fun, spacey dance tracks.
“Busted and Blue,” a conventional, but well-written and produced
ballad, serves as a reprieve from the hedonistic party of the rest of the
While the theme of the album is an interesting and well-executed
one, the empty production, mishandled mish-mash of tone and
arrangement missteps leads to Humanz likely being a disappointment
for many fans.
• Cole Parker
46 | MAY 2017 • BEATROUTE
Top Dawg Entertainment
It’s interesting that DAMN., the pop-leaning masterwork from
Kendrick Lamar, features the Compton rapper adopting the
pseudonym Kung Fu Kenny. On a surface level, it’s interesting
because another famous Compton rapper, Kurtis Blow, also
displayed his love of the martial arts with his brilliant “Basketball”
music video. (y’know? the song that Lil Bow Wow covered
in Like Mike?). On a slightly deeper level, the comparison is
interesting because it’s a record that finds Lamar perfectly balancing
pop song structure with deft social commentary much
like Blow did on “The Breaks.”
With DAMN. the 29-year-old Lamar proves that his name
belongs in the history books, but it’s what it means to be the
greatest that seems to be tugging on his conscience. Like on
much of To Pimp a Butterfly, DAMN., finds Lamar trying to
come to grips with his hip-hop deification while he lives in the
sin of a mere mortal.
At first glance, DAMN. is a less sonically-ambitious album
than it’s two jazz-indebted acid-freakout forebearers in To
Pimp a Butterfly and Untitled Unmastered, but by offering
his most accessible music since his world-conquering breakthrough
album good kid, m.A.A.d. city Lamar finds room to let
his lyricism shine.
There are plenty of moments on DAMN., that elicit
jaw-dropping awe; just being alive to hear an artist of Lamar’s
calibre practice his craft is akin to meeting Prince in real life.
Lamar’s winning streak is boisterous, but free of the smugness
that surrounds so many other greats. In fact, Lamar’s draw lies
in his insistence that even at the top of the game, he’s still a
human like anyone else.
Yet, on tracks like “FEEL.” and “FEAR.” when Lamar is at the
peak of his lyrical and rapping abilities, his talent feels anything
but human. The former track features Kendrick locking
into the bossa nova beat with an expert precision. His flawless
flows, cadences, and dense rhyme schemes make it increasingly
evident that Lamar is a singular talent. Like his Reagan-era
Californian forebearers Blow, Tupac, and Dr. Dre, Lamar uses
his platform to diagnose society’s ills.
On the 25th anniversary of the Rodney King trial, it’s clear
that Lamar’s mind still focuses on police brutality, but it’s his
introspective look at American rage that inevitably makes
DAMN. the first classic album of the Trump political era.
• Jamie McNamara
Call it an adherence to the foolproof “20 year rule” of cyclical trends
in music - a phenomena that’s revived genres such as post-punk and
first-wave emo to varying degrees of success - that shoegazers Slowdive
would return from the woodwork 22 years after the release of their
final album Pygmalion in 1995.
Perhaps best known for their landmark LP Souvlaki in 1993, an
album bolstered by the ever-powerful retrospect of the online ethos,
the five-pieces split shortly after their last album saw the group fracture
into a scattershot of different paths — most prominently the quasi-ambient/alt-country
band Mojave 3.
However, those “in the know” know the past never stays dead,
especially when internet music-mongers get hold of your discography
and realize the power that may not initially been apparent. It’s not surprising
that Slowdive would eventually come back, if only to answer the
call of Souvlaki fans young and old, especially with former Creation labelmates
My Bloody Valentine returning to the forefront two decades
after their massive album Loveless with follow-up m b v in 2013.
Supported by two ethereally-stellar singles “Star Roving” and “Sugar
for the Pill,” Slowdive’s latest (and aptly self-titled) record encapsulates
the best aspects of an initially-overlooked genre. It’s brimming with dissonance
and heavy on the reverb while remaining spacious and sonic,
rolling bass lines appear from the haze with both a succinct clarity and
revenant power, and Neil Halstead’s vocals drip with the same downtempo
malaise that is a shoegaze archetype.
But, really, it’s the vocals of Rachel Goswell that come through as
the shining star of the album, both complementing the more muddied
vocals of Halstead and accentuating the nuances of a genre so steeped
in the busyness of sound and noise.
Goswell is the saving grace on tracks like messy opener “Slomo,” putting
on her best Cocteau Twins affectation during the tail end of a song
with too many contrasting parts that never quite find a harmony.
While “Don’t Know Why” is perhaps a better example of the group
working together, featuring a pitter-patter of percussion and crystallized
guitar notes amidst the haze in what may be as stadium-ready as
shoegaze can be. Even still, it’s Goswell’s use of winding and hypnotic
repetition that makes the track whole.
Though, the band needs not rely on the grandiose quality of the singles
— “No Longer Making Time” is another solid standout, finding the
group revelling in the contrast between low-key clarity and high-volume
dissonance before descending into “Go Get It,” another massive
track held together by spectacularly rollicking bass.
After 22 years, it’s of a worthy effort by Slowdive to put together a
solid record with only occasional missteps marring the way. If anything,
this album is an affirmation that Souvlaki wasn’t necessarily a one-off,
and if the shoegaze revival is to continue, Slowdive may just be at the
• Alec Warkentin
ANAMAI are an experimental folk duo out of Toronto, Canada
comprised of singer Anna Mayberry of noise rock band HSY, and
producer David Psutka, also known as Egyptrixx. The pair have
worked together before as ANAMAI, with a self-titled EP in 2013
and their debut album, Sallows, in 2015.
In their latest effort, What Mountain, ANAMAI channel darker
energies in their ambient-meets-folk meditations. It opens with a
loud drone, accompanied only by chimes and natural harmonics
before Mayberry steps onto the stage in highlight “Crossing.” In
this track, her lead melodic range is flat, and sticks to the rhythm
of the hand-picked guitar, which bleeds into the thrumming
drone with every pluck of the lowest string.
“One minute out of every hundred thousand something
breaks or is tripped over.” She sings, challenging the subject of
the song to be more patient. The listener would be rewarded to
take on the same challenge when taking in What Mountain.
The guitar is changed for warbling synth pads in some songs,
buzzing with the drone in much the same way that the six strings
might. They’re each occasionally joined and drowned by chimes,
natural harmonics, the angry growls of feedback or nature, and
other dread-building tones. Mayberry’s voice sounds at once
like the lost little girl and the tricksy witch in the centre of the
swirling haunted wood of the resulting soundscape.
The tracks can meander in their own atmosphere for a little
too long occasionally, but that atmosphere is one that is excellently
invoked and one a listener can get lost in.
• Cole Parker
Nervous Intent Records
It would be easy, but unfair, to label Crooked Bangs as another
garage-y post-punk band toying with thematic gothic elements
and be done with it. The term post-punk—typically used in modern
times as a throwaway, somewhat empty catch all descriptor—is
broad to the extreme, being propped up as an umbrella
under which artists who can reside on opposite sonic spectrum
ends are forced to sit together, their only common ground being
an appreciation of hiding from the sun.
II, the second full length from Austin, Texas trio Crooked
Bangs, also shuns the warmth of the sun in favour of a cold, disparate
world in itself that begs to be misjudged and mislabeled.
The album, released on Nervous Intent Records, is an altogether
unsettling—and at times puzzling—witches brew of searing primal
sounds, discordant genre shifts, and also focused, practically
poppy arrangements and vocal lines.
Singer/Bassist Leda Ginestra’s voice is a stygian, clairvoyant
force waging war on multiple fronts across the album’s 9 tracks,
deftly juggling English and French, while the drums—generally
dominating the coarse, boorish sounding mix— lead the band
deeper into the hellscape forming around them as the album
Crooked Bangs are hacking through interesting, visceral
territory, and the record is a dark departure from their tighter,
decidedly more-punk-than-post debut. Even so, II can’t totally
shake the overall takeaway of sounding like a band still finding
it’s way and it’s identity.
• Willem Thomas
This Old Dog
Opening up with “My Old Man,” Mac DeMarco immediately
establishes that he has grown up, for better or for worse.
This Old Dog is peppered with fatherly wisdom and a subdued
acoustic backbone, frequently broken up by classic DeMarco
synth elements. It’s his quietest project yet, a realization that the
stars might not be calling as often as they used to. At first, the
lackluster melodies and preachy lyrics are overshadowed by De-
Marco’s zestful earlier albums, but just like fatherly advice, there
comes the realization that maybe he’s right after all.
At the tender age of 26, salad days are gone for DeMarco,
fleeting through years of rigorous touring and the little time
he’s had to enjoy his accomplishments. In the process of moving
from New York to L.A., he finally had the opportunity to breath,
letting the songs on This Old Dog take the backseat while he
adjusted to a new life. By letting the album mature in a chamber
of reflection, he’s made a collection of songs that prove an old
dog can learn new tricks; it’s not just another one rehashed and
Over layered melodies, DeMarco sings about melancholic
themes, ranging from appreciating life while you still can and the
loss of love that any long-term relationship carries with it. The
record has some of his best songs in an already stellar discography.
“Moonlight on the River” is something else, though, staying
true to its title by transporting the listener to where moonlight
hits the water, causing a tidal wave of somber and magnificent
emotion across seven minutes.
This Old Dog may not be Mac DeMarco’s most instantly gratifying
album, but it is certainly his most sophisticated, proving
that getting old isn’t all that bad.
• Paul McAleer
Light Organ Records
Hot on the heels of winning a 2016 nomination for the SOCAN
Songwriting Prize for their song ‘Julia,’ Ontario’s Fast Romantics
are set to release their sophomore album, titled American Love.
Proof that the traditions of Canadian rock and roll are alive and
well in 2017, the album is packed with rich-sounding music
that is layered with instruments and narrative song writing that
manages to simultaneously capture a piece of Canadiana while
remaining accessible to rock fans of all stripes.
The sound throughout the album remains full-bodied, with
rare dips into slower, more introspective sounding bridge sections
during some tracks. The core of most songs come straight
from the roots of rock music with tastefully distorted guitar and
driving percussion delivered in almost every track on the album.
Sporadic synth rhythms and the distinct ringing of bells and
chimes round out the musical arsenal, adding an extra layer of
sonic depth to the music. One caveat to American Light is that, if
you are looking for variety, this album is lacking it in some ways.
The sound, tone and tempo is more or less consistent throughout
the entire album, so don’t go into it expecting a rollercoaster
of musical changes.
Chances are, if you have listened to any Canadian radio in the
last six months or so, you have heard the single “Why We Fight,”
which was released in January of this year. If you enjoyed that
track, chances are this album will pique your interest as a whole.
Cover to cover, it delivers a solid, upbeat-yet-introspective rock
and roll sound.
• Jodi Brak
Another instalment in the gradually building saga of Britain’s
Forest Swords, Compassion is the first release from the enigmatic
producer since his 2013 debut Engravings. Prior to that, the
artist had just release a bread-trail of singles, EPs, and cassettes,
inciting listeners to follow along. The 2010 EP Dagger Path was
a defining moment for him artistically in which audiences could
get a grasp of his sound. They were then made to wait when he
suffered from hearing problems forcing the delay of the fulllengths
release. He forced himself to be patient with his changing
artistic process; the result was beautiful.
It seems as if he still employs that same patient approach. Four
years since his last, Forest Swords has crafted a thoughtful, complex
work and most importantly beautiful work. It reflects his
struggles with the current state of the world, saying in the press
release that he hoped to create his own light at the end of the
BEATROUTE • MAY 2017 | 47
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48 | MAY 2017 • BEATROUTE
tunnel, after struggling to see one himself.
Compassion combines sounds drawn from
distant times, diced up choral and orchestral
samples that cut through with striking clarity,
and understated percussion with the technological
savvy of a modern-day producer now confident
in the distinct niche they’ve established.
The atmosphere is at times shrouded in a sort of
medieval forlorn gloom; sometimes chaotic and
invigorating, while in other moments unmistakably
beautiful and tranquil. It is introspective,
contemplative music, allowing the artist to channel
his feelings about the world into his work.
Forest Swords has managed to reach audiences,
without saying a word.
• Paul Rodgers
Full Of Hell
Chances are, when you first heard about Full
of Hell it was through their two collaborations:
2014’s split with noise-musician-even-somenormies-have-heard-of
Merzbow and 2016’s
team-up with berobed avant-sludgists The Body.
It’s not that previous LPs and EPs weren’t well
received, but getting a nod from two angry music
institutions means something, and it sets up
expectation for what follows.
Trumpeting Ecstasy is a banger. D-Beat, Black
Metal, Death Metal, Hardcore, Grindcore- Full
of Hell can do each one better than bands that
have been working in a single genre for decades.
FoH don’t just fuse and transcend every single
genre of extreme music (literally, all of them),
they sidestep extremity entirely to bring in the
sweet, childlike vocals of singer-songwriter
Nicole Dollanganger for the album’s penultimate
power-electronic beatdown before returning to
prove that they reign supreme over all heaviness
like the black hole swirling at the centre of our
galaxy in the last track. This is going to be on a
lot of year-end best-of lists, so get in early.
• Gareth Watkins
(Sandy) Alex G
Whether it’s indie-rock, pop, or hip-hop, there’s
always a disappointing groan when an artist
releases a new album that sounds exactly like
the last few. With (Sandy) Alex G, there’s no
reason to worry. The Philadelphia-based artist
is a bottomless goldmine of ideas, and he’s just
Rocket is (Sandy) Alex G’s eighth full-length
release since 2011, but he has a handful of unreleased
projects that are equally as impressive.
His ear for melody and organic songwriting is
reminiscent of Elliott Smith, but his most cutting
songs speak to the do-it-yourself nature of, dare
I say it, early Modest Mouse. Last year, his talents
attracted Frank Ocean, landing him a spot on the
critically acclaimed Blonde.
“Bobby” is the first single from Rocket, and it is
easily one of the best songs of the year. Exchanging
lo-fi charm for alt-country purity, the track
embraces fiddles, stunning harmonies and crisp
production to create something universally beautiful.
Complete with dogs barking and intoxicating
vocals, “Poison Root,” starts the album off by continuing
the alt-country theme, but it isn’t as initially
accessible as “Bobby.” The same could be said
for the rest of the album: alt-country in spirit, yet
full of surprises that only Alex G could pull off. It is
musically and lyrically dense, but it is a rewarding
experience when everything finally clicks.
With tracks like “County” and “Alina,” Rocket
floats into the cloudy realm of dream-pop, but
they felt perfectly in the context of the album.
“Brick,” on the other hand, is a bit of an anomaly
on Rocket, abandoning serenity in favour of relentless
punk rage. It’s a shocking moment on the
album, but it’s also masterfully executed.
There’s something for everyone on Rocket, yet
Alex G doesn’t double down on one consistent
tone. Even so, anything that’s left to be desired
has probably been explored on one of his past
releases. And, amazingly enough, there’s still a lot
left to be discovered.
• Paul McAleer
It’s amazing what drums can do. Girlpool’s
second full length, Powerplant, opens with the
sultry tonality we expect from the LA two piece.
Soft bass, and a brittle guitar line set the scene,
and dual fronting vocals from Harmony Tividad,
and Cleo Tucker perfectly and imprecisely offset
each other. Then, with a quick roll, a full drum kit
enters the mix, and the song becomes a garage
rock anthem. We suddenly find both frontwoman
belting and ripping, and it feels exactly right.
Drums fit so naturally into their music that if you
had never heard the two-piece before, you might
expect them to have been a garage rock band all
along. Their early work isn’t devoid of the same
rawness, but the lack of a rhythm section entirely
brought a meditative quality that is mitigated
somewhat on Powerplant. This isn’t a detriment
however, there is a spring in their step on the
new record, even on slower tracks like “Fast
Dust” and “Your Heart,” the former of which
contains barely any drums. Songs are louder
and more distorted here, and while it makes
for a more straightforward rock album, it holds
onto the charm and quirk of their first releases.
Girlpool is bigger and louder on Powerplant, and
while they find themselves leaning into genre,
they manage to reap the benefits of rhythm with
few of the drawbacks.
• Liam Prost
Royal Mountain Records
As Hollerado’s fourth LP, Born Yesterday, kicks
into gear with the title track, it seems the Ottawa
four piece have finally teetered off their riffbased
indie rock origins and into full pop punk
Following the gargantuan release of 2015’s
111 Songs, the accessible route seems like the
natural path for the band - drop a couple fun,
radio friendly tracks with chant-along choruses
and call it a day. And although there are a fair
amount of “yeah-yeah-yeah”s and “woah-oh”s
scattered across the album’s refrains, Born Yesterday
also succeeds in covering a lot of diverse
ground over its 38 minute run time.
From the political march of “Grief Money,” to
the staccato strikes and Andrew WK-esque party
piano line in “Sorry You’re Alright,” Hollerado’s
ability to comfortably explore their authentic
indie pop sound is on display throughout their
Though Born Yesterday continues to weave
around the usual alt rock standard Hollerado has
occupied, it does lack the memorable anthem
tracks that established their name as a Canadian
indie mainstay. Though the track “Age of Communication”
flirts with the emotional strike, it
never quite explodes into the celebratory chorus
it seems to build towards throughout.
The comfortable nature and light-hearted
subject matter of Born Yesterday, however,
allows for the short LP to remain enjoyable
throughout, even without the expected payoff
of an anthemic standout.
• Nathan Kunz
Land of Talk
Life After Youth
Dine Alone Records
Land of Talk has always felt like a singer-songwriter
project insofar as its appeal was wrapped
up so strongly in Powell’s voice and guitar-work.
Life After Youth doubles down on this with some
heavily vocal-lead tracks like the synth-backed
“Inner Lover.” That said, some of the best tracks
make efficient use of the strong rhythm section,
tracks like “World Made” hit with the strongest
resemblance to the harder rocking Cloak and
Cypher (2010). Lyrically, the album is redemptive
and hopeful, even if does touch on themes
longing and doubt. Allegedly the record had
several false starts during the band’s hiatus, and
the emotional range here does reflect that to a
certain extent. Powell admits that she “doesn’t
want to waste… [her] life,” and if she continues to
produce music like this, she certainly will not.
• Liam Prost
It’s been seven years since their last release and
Land of Talk’s music has aged extremely well.
Life After Youth isn’t massively divergent from
their earlier releases, but it manages to feel
contemporary alongside the indie rock of today,
much of which finds itself reaching for guitar
tones and song-writing clues from the late
eighties and nineties, which Land of Talk was
already doing. The new record’s biggest stylistic
innovation is a strong investment in synthesizers,
mostly, if not entirely analog. The record
sounds vintage and pristine, like your favorite
denim jacket, but with all the lyrical shape of
Elizabeth Powell’s breathy tenor, and unique
guitar work, largely typified by her interest in
MINOTAURS are primarily a live experience.
Massive ensembles were a played out indie
trope of the early oughts; MINOTAURS walks
onto the stage looking akin to a Broken Social
Scene, with tons of band members, copious
amounts of denim, and a few handfuls of brass.
But instead of a wall of sound or a twee orchestral
backdrop, MINOTAURS pumps out some
horn-driven funk and psychedelic rock.
The band is fronted by Guelph singer-songwriter
Nathan Lawr, who writes the songs and
directs the band. He also sings on most of the
tracks as well, although vocals are hardly the
focal point. The band prioritizes groove, with
a strong and buzzing rhythm section, and an
almost academic interplay of horns. AUM is
their fourth release, and it works as a natural
extension of their work to this point. There are
also some clever keyboard moves on this new
record, along with some Nile Rodgers-esque
guitar work, which grounds the record’s more
afrobeat inspired moments. The record is only 6
tracks, long like their last release, Weird Waves
(2016), but these are beefy songs, all of which
are over 5 minutes, and make strong use of
the time, working through ideas fully before
transitioning. AUM is all groove all the time, and
an exciting mix of world genres in an otherwise
synth-centric indie landscape.
• Liam Prost
Big Bad Luv
John Moreland plays tunes for the Greyhound,
BEATROUTE • MAY 2017 | 49
full of hard-timer narratives and steady as a
prairie highway on Big Bad Luv, kicking off with
the passing farms diner shuffle on “Sallisaw
Blue,” and with the Americana elegance of “Old
Wounds,” “Every Kind Of Wrong,” and “Love Is
Not An Answer.” Moreland’s lyrical depth shines
and his vocal tone quakes with the workingman’s
blues - “Running from the Armageddon
jury, born to put your love on trial,” - without
resorting to the simplest way to say it. That’s
where the poetry lay, “I used to say, ‘I love you,
and wonder who I was talking to,” rounding to
boulder conclusions: “If we don’t bleed it don’t
feel like a song.”
The distance and subtlety in the production
of Big Bad Luv feels like the plains, assured that
there won’t be any sharp turns, just wide veers
that take you around the next corner, as easy
as passing farms. Moreland’s comforting vocal
tone, plaintive and masculine, delivers his lines
with honesty and avoids cliches. Even as close to
The Boss as he arrives a couple of times, Moreland
sounds like a man on the tools, framing up
in the field to counter the wind.
• Mike Dunn
Mutoid Man are Stephen Brodsky from Cave In,
Ben Koller from Converge and All Pigs Must Die
and Nick Cageo from a really cool metal bar in
Brooklyn called St. Vitus, the latter’s inclusion
almost blowing out of the water any suggestion
that MM are a Probot-style pastiche supergroup.
The band play something that is both thrash
and hair metal but often faster than both, a
reminder of Koller’s Converge pedigree (and
Brodsky’s, when his band weren’t trying to be
the the Foo Fighters). A Chelsea Wolfe cameo
on two tracks is one of the few reminders that
musical progress didn’t stop on January 31st,
1989, and this album was clearly written for
anybody who finds that an appealing prospect.
If it isn’t, then War Moans may not justify repeat
listening, but will serve as a 45-minute long
advertisement for what sounds like a killer live
• Gareth Watkins
The Northern Coast
Most young bands take some time to figure out the
defining characteristics of their sound and style, and
every release acts as something of a roadmap for their
progression. On Revelry, the debut EP from Calgary’s
The Northern Coast, you can hear a number of likely
paths forward, with the earnestness of experience
and youthful cockiness in equal amounts across the
Leading off with the sauntering “Georgia Moon,”
the band shows an affinity for classic sounds, a bit
of a “20th Century Boy” heel-toe, and nicely placed
lady harmonies mingling with the subtle crooning of
vocalist Arron Crook. “Trouble” is another swaggering
number laced with bad boy grittiness, more dangerous
than pining, but perhaps a little concerned with
the appearance of danger than actual recklessness.
“Rusted Love” gets closer to the bone, it’s inevitable
hard Sunday feelings of a Saturday night well spent,
to a jangling Interpol-esque guitar line from Hunter
Hansen that sits nicely among the other cuts, as tonal
left turns tend to do.
Revelry is a good start from a band beginning to
click and discover what makes them sound like themselves.
Whether in the charming and mildly seedy
barstool smile of the early Tragically Hip, or the more
airy and atmospheric sound of current indie rock,
The Northern Coast will no doubt define a direction
for their style, strutting down avenues both expected
• Mike Dunn
Arts & Crafts
A friendship; vocal marriage; clean, simple, all
Stripped down from its debut album’s
production, Overcoats, made up of Hana Elion
and JJ Mitchell, shine in a growing collection of
documented live performances online. The most
simple and acoustic of these videos shed light
on the strength that is the core of the Overcoats’
music: the powerful expression of a young woman’s
voice harmonizing with another.
Overcoats’ debut holds tight to an exploration
of ‘the relationship,’ its power dynamics and
the self-reflection inherent in it. Co-produced
by Nicolas Vernhas and Autre Ne Veut with
additional production by Myles Avery and Ben
Baptie’s mix,Young is a richly layered tapestry of
harmonic vocals and sparse yet intensely cohesive
production, staking a solid claim to the title
of dance and remix ready Folk Soul.
Some songs push up against the limitations of
simplicity, implying greater possibilities for the
track through the imagination of the listener.
“Siren” being a prime example of where the two
step drive and instrumental swells never reach
the intensity that’s bubbling just beneath the surface
of the track. This restraint is what keeps the
song true to the source of Overcoats’ artistry, but
is also what makes for its wonderful contribution
to the foundation of a musical landscape that is
hungry to rebuild and explore unique elements of
pure talent. Other songs prevail on the other side
of these limitations, such as “Smaller Than My
Mother,” where the song’s backbone bass drum
and processed vocal sampling surge the song
forward into the sparse hollow that grasps one’s
full attention so as to launch it forward into the
ethereal swirls of a fully composed sound. Taken
apart for its individual parts or kept together as a
whole,Young is a record that will come to define
the sound of 2017.
• Andrew R. Mott
Lack of Lightness
Lone Waltz Records
There’s a good chance you haven’t heard of the
Hungarian folk duo that is Papaver Cousins, but if
you are a fan of brooding, introspective folk music
laced with a dash of rock and roll energy, Lack
of Lightness could be a good album to check out.
Papaver Cousins is a singer-songwriter duo of two
brothers, Oliver Szendrey-Nagy & Barnabas Nagy,
exposing their desires, fears and perceptions in
the manner of roots folk music.
The first half of the album almost exclusively
contains soft-spoken acoustic tunes that paint
somewhat of a bleak picture on the subjects of
loss, loneliness and the fleeting qualities of love.
Much of the tracks on this release seem like the
epitome of rainy day songs, conjuring the image
of grey, moody skies and the bleak outlook of an
overcast day. Combining two acoustic guitars
really lends to this sound, with one lightly strumming
minor chords while the other picks around
a scale to create melodies that narrate the lyrics.
Around the fifth track, the title track “Lack of
Lightness,” is when the album starts to pick up
speed and sonic energy, throwing some crashing
cymbals and loud, distorted electric guitar into
the mix amongst horns and other folk instruments.
Many of the later tracks on the album
start out slow, before rising to a crescendo towards
the end, with a stark contrast between the
quiet, often somber, intro sections and the loud,
crashing climaxes. This makes for a very dynamic
record that captures many moods and sounds.
Still, one might wonder if it sounds a touch unfocused,
placing such quiet, reflective songs right
up next to energetic folk-rock ballads.
• Jodi Brak
For those who struggle with mental health issues,
who are survivors of trauma or who are marginalized,
contentment can be a very weird place.
When your existence is called into question and
when this world shames a silent part of you, there
are different choices to make: Do you become
defiant? Or do you become invisible? Achieving
contentment is a battle hard-won.
The truth is, you become adaptable. 2014’s
Too Bright saw Mike Hadreas (Perfume Genius)
existing in and relishing in defiance, but his new
work No Shape, shifts the dialogue internally. It’s
far from, but influenced by his early piano balladry.
It expands the sonic environment created on
Too Bright, pushing Hadrea’s limits further than
they’ve ever been. By virtue of existence, his work
pushes back against a hetero and cis-normative
gaze, but this album’s focus is on being OK in
spite of it all; not letting the anger and alienation
swallow you up. On lead single “Slip Away,” he
sings, “They’ll never break the shape we take…
baby let all them voices fade away.”
No Shape is an aptly appropriate title. It was
pulled from “Wreath,” where Hadreas sings, “I
wanna have with no shape,” expressing his desire
to be free from the confines of physicality, and
what’s associated with his, in this world. But it’s
more than that, as Hadreas’ music refuses to be
confined to one style or influence. The album
is a slow mix of ‘80s soft rock gallantry, smooth
jazz, gospel, and R&B. On “Slip Away,” he sounds
like Kate Bush, ornate and sophisticated, while
on “Die 4 You,” he has a Sade-like sentimentality,
darkness bubbling beneath the surface.
Despite the wide range of influence and sound,
Perfume Genius is an auteur commanding each
into his whims. No Shape is cohesive, fearless, and
• Trent Warner
New Damage Records
Three years ago Edmonton’s Slates released Taiga
to nominal success with the help of prolific
producer Steve Albini. The band’s newest effort
Summery, uses the same set of ears to take their
sound to a place it hasn’t yet been. The record is
full of angular, energetic guitar lines and buoyant
emotional soundscapes, creating an optimistic
arc for the listener. There are moments of light
nihilism in the titular track, “Summery,” but they
in no way overpower the louder moments of clarity
which suggest instead pausing for a moment;
taking a breath and moving forward into the
next season. The band has gone through several
things in their personal lives in recent years and
this record carries forward their signature style
of grunge-y Canadiana, but with the obvious
wisdom and confidence they’ve accumulated
over the years.
Where Taiga can feel gloomy at times in its’
heavier tones, Summery decidedly goes in the
opposite direction, in search of a different outlook.
Small details within much of the distorted,
flickering guitar work make that obvious and
vocalist/guitarist James Stewart gives just enough
away through his lyrics to reassure us Slates can
handle any storm that comes their way.
• Brittany Rudyck
Dine Alone Records
Boy with laptop. Girl with microphone. You think
you know the drill.
Sylvan Esso somehow bucks trends without defying
genre. With pop songwriting and clear hooks,
the band understands their own accessibility, even
to the point of parody on What Now’s first single
“Radio,” a harsh critique of mass market pop songs,
written perfectly in the style thereof.
The most remarkable element of Sylvan Esso’s
dreamy electro pop is Amelia Meath’s indescribable
voice. It has a jazzy mystique combined with a playful
affection. At the record’s loudest moments, she
belts like a pop star, but she also inhabits an ethereal
space on What Now’s several down-tempo songs.
Their self-titled debut was produced by Nick
Sanborn and was primarily built on glitch-pop
styled synths and samples, with R&B inspired
rhythms. This second record is decidedly pop,
but by no means glossy. Synth lines are often
slightly canted rhythmically, and the beats -
while still largely programmed - are much more
organic. Quite a few of the synth leads have a
trap inspired rudeness, but this is intercut with
tracks featuring jangly acoustic guitar. There’s
50 | MAY 2017 • BEATROUTE
a strong variety here to the production, which
balances out the slightly more conventional
songwriting. Like the first record, What Now is a
strong listen from front to back, with a coherent
beginning and end. You’re introduced to Meath’s
voice through layers of unraveling static on “The
Sound” and she waves goodbye with the reserved
and staccato “Rewind.”
• Liam Prost
Love is Love
are tangled in knots, sublimely depicting how
many are feeling after the election: “Just when we
thought it couldn’t get worse/I’m lost in a crowd;
a descending darkness/And it feels like a dream,
but the trip gets worse/And I’m lost in a crowd”.
The star-crossed beatnik/nu folk flower
“children” created a warm, hopeful album that
gracefully transitioned from their last, City Sun
Eater In The River Light. The 60’s West looks to
today’s East; Brooklyn must be the center of the
new Haight Ashbury - watch the magic unfold.
• Shayla Friesen
Brooklyn’s Woods fuel our hearts fire on their
latest, Love is Love. This six-track short, yet
illustrious, work reflects on the current political
climate in the US with a peaceful mirror rather
than vain rumination. It serves as a reminder
of “energy flows where attention goes” – their
attention flowed fluidly and rapidly with this
one, taking a mere two months to be written and
recorded subsequent to the latest US election.
The short and sweet care package provided by
Woods is a refreshingly psychedelic lemonade;
it electrifies and entices with twists of jazz and
packs sweet punches of worldly beats and entrancing
“Love Is Love” starts off with a layered, reverbing
beat blended with Latin flair, then soothes
the listener with the lead guitar that cuts through
with concise conviction. “Bleeding Blue” holds
horns which shine out, reminiscent of Floyd’s
Atom Heart Mother, while heeding warning with
lyrics, “If we want love - hate can’t stay”. “Lost In
A Crowd” portrays the feeling of when one’s guts
Number 1 Angel
The evolution of British popstar Charli XCX has
been a rapid one. She started as a budding electro
pop prodigy with a sound reminiscent of a
Marina Diamandis (of Marina and the Diamonds)
who gave less fucks. Her first breakthrough into
the mainstream zeitgeist was her feature and
songwriting credit on Icona Pop’s devil-may-care
party anthem “I Love It” which provided the blueprint
for her next step, into an artist with huge
mainstream potential. She capitalized on it with
a rebel-minded, pseudo-cheerleader style that
brought a punk-adjacent tinge to the charts.
Last year, she morphed again, this time into party
trash pop princess Charli XCX. Her 2016 EP, Vroom
Vroom, was an amalgamation of debauchery, bravado
and the bubblegum bass of up-and-coming PC
Music producers Sophie and A. G. Cook.
Her new mixtape, Number 1 Angel, is an iteration
on Vroom Vroom’s sound. A.G. Cook is at
the helm of the album’s production and it keeps
that EP’s slightly off-kilter vibe that somehow
make the melodies even catchier.
The mixtape is in some ways a safer retread of
Vroom Vroom, though. Tracks “ILY2” and “Roll
With Me,” steal the hook and deep, rumbling
bass from EP cut “Secret (Shh),” respectively.
Nothing feels as ambitious, but the features
make it work. Starrah and Raye open the mixtape
expertly with hazy “Dreamer,” MØ shifts
the narrative of “3AM (Pull Up),” and Uffie’s
brief, brash verse on “Babygirl” competes with
the hyperlane-to-heaven beat change on “Blame
It On You” for the release’s best moment.
Number 1 Angel, despite being more than
twice the runtime of Vroom Vroom, feels like it
has less ideas. Ultimately though. Charli’s swagger,
the strength of the features and the manic
craziness of the production are enough to make
the mixtape a solid addition to Charli’s diverse
catalogue of saccharine pop.
• Cole Parker
BEATROUTE • MAY 2017 | 51
We Are All Juggalos
the world’s most ridiculed aren’t all that bad
CANADIAN JUGGALO WEEKEND
MARQUEE STAGE & FESTIVAL TENT
When it was announced that Canadian Juggalo Weekend
would be hosted in Calgary, the Internet lost its collective
shit. In a matter of hours, the Facebook event page was
replete with subtle (and plenty more not-so-subtle) jabs at Insane
Clown Posses’ fanbase, vastly outnumbering genuine discussion. It
seemed like a role reversal: those deeply immersed in subculture terrain
who are prone to being trolled, found themselves dishing it out
for a change. The online forum served as a microcosm of the public’s
opinion of Juggalos. However, if those same keyboard warriors had
taken the time to explore the movement they were trashing, their
malice might have evaporated in a sickly-sweet Faygo mist, even
giving way to disbelief… the Juggalos just aren’t that bad.
Walking into the Marquee on Friday afternoon was an experience,
to be sure. Nestled amongst typical bar and bottle service offerings
were merch booths and carnival food stands, filling the air with
enticing aromas reminiscent of Stampede. The demographic was
overwhelmingly late-20s, facepainted and hyper-enthusiastic. Blaring
underground rap would clash with the crowd’s intermittent chanting
of… just about anything. Outside the venue, nestled under an unceremoniously
small two-top circus tent was a wrestling ring – a staple
of ICP’s early career, and of Juggalo culture.
It was a cocktail of organized chaos, the kind of sensory overload
that forms the foundation for much of any hardcore underground
movement. It was barely discernible from any rowdy punk or metal
show, apart from the contagiously happy mood and the hearty helpings
of facepaint, yielding a twisted subcultural Venn diagram that
served up a disproportionately positive experience.
The throngs of Juggalos filling the Marquee were on cloud nine
and eager to let everyone know it. This gathering was friendly as hell,
despite the arduous pilgrimage for some party-goers to Calgary. One
Juggalo, who introduced himself as James, said he was kicked off a
Greyhound without explanation, citing his facepaint as the most
likely motivator. Nonetheless, energy levels remained sky high for a
thousand dedicated fans who have been itching to let their freak flag
fly for years.
On that Friday night, in the midst of a Faygo-drenched mosh pit,
with ICP’s live rendition of “Chicken Huntin’” in the background,
incredulousness gave way to understanding. It became clear that
juggalos have been a subcultural martyr spanning a wide cross-section
taking on the burdens of other shittier movements as their
cross to bear and a target for the frustrations and pettiness of
Juggalos are no worse than any of us. In fact, chances are they’re
better at being human than many of us. They’re the personification
of the people who were picked on in high school, just for being
different: the misfits who wouldn’t compromise on their identity just
because it wasn’t cool. These people coming together from points
all across North America, whatever the cost, despite the persecution
for their choice in music, taste in fashion and mode of celebration,
it’s shockingly clear that the camaraderie bursting at the seams that
weekend is the Juggalos’ driving pride and force.
That same uncompromising sense of family is hard to come by,
and only pops up every so often at certain summer festivals known
for their unique character and location. But to find it in a typical club,
pouring out onto a non-descript parking lot on just another weekend
in April speaks volumes on Juggalos as a whole: they have spirit.
Line up a few Juggalos next to other hardcore heads of all stripes,
and chances are they’re largely harmless in comparison. From this
writer’s experience, shittiness is universal, no matter the genre, and
some subcultures worse than others, but ICP fans are not among
them. Yet we insist on continuing to bully them, well after we’re
supposed to have grown up. What does that say about us?
Review and photos by Max Foley
BEATROUTE • MAY 2017 | 53
Portland... left overs
Nancy, the tech-savvy at-risk youth, two gimps, Christ on the cross, the
Easter Bunny, two weeping women, and the Easter Bunny’s smoking-hot
leather master took to the stage at Revolution Hall in Portland,
Oregon, for a live taping of the Savage Lovecast on Easter weekend.
Audience members submitted their questions on cards (I take my
questions like some of you take your men: anonymously)—but with
Rachel Lark and the Damaged Goods and comedian Nariko Ott on
the program as well, we didn’t get to many questions. So I’m going to
answer as many of Portland’s questions as I can in this week’s column.
We’ve been sleeping with another couple for three months (first time
my BF and I opened our relationship). How do I suggest full penetration
with the opposite partner? At this point, we just do oral and
that’s the “groove” we’re in.
Only-oral-with-others may be this couple’s preferred groove and the
lane they want to stay in. If they’re only up for the “soft swap,” as it’s
known in swinging circles, penetration isn’t gonna happen. But you
should feel free to ask for what you want—at the very least, you’ll get
some long-overdue clarity about their boundaries.
Is squirting pee? We know that chemically it’s similar, but is it REALLY?
I’m tired of this debate, so consider this my final answer: So what if it
My girlfriend asked me to make out with another guy. Her fantasy.
We met a really pretty gay boy at a house party, and so I made out
with him. I got hard, and my girlfriend made a huge scene. She says it
was supposed to be for her pleasure, not for mine, and she’s still angry
six months later and constantly questions whether I’m really straight.
(I am!) What do I tell her?
When do you know if it’s okay to insert your finger in your boyfriend’s
butthole? Without fear of freaking him out?
After you’ve applied lube to your finger and his butthole—which you’re
allowed to do only after you’ve asked him if you can insert your finger in
his butthole and after he’s consented to having your finger in his butthole.
I want to try anal, but I am scared of getting poop on my partner. Is
an enema enough?
Properly administered, an enema should be more than enough. But
with anal as with liberal democracy—a good outcome is not guarantee
Sometimes you do your homework and your prep, and everything still
comes to shit.
I love my man, but we’re both tops. What should we do?
Spit-roast very special guest stars if you’re in an open relationship, take
turns/one for the team if you’re in a monogamous relationship, explore
and enjoy your non-butt-penetrative options.
How do we play around with opening up our relationship as parents
of a 1-year-old? We barely have enough time or enough sleep to keep
our own relationship juicy.
Play around in theory for now—lots of dirty talk—and put theory
into practice after your kid is a toddler and you’ve landed a reliable
Will you plug stoptrumpswall.org?
My girlfriend and I are pretty grossly in love and very affectionate,
especially after we’ve just had sex. Should we make an effort to tone
it down a bit around a third we’ve just fucked around with? Or should
we just be ourselves, and if they don’t like it, oh well?
Be yourselves—but make an effort to include your third in those
oxytocin-infused displays of postcoital affection. Unless your third was
inconsiderate or creepy during the sex, or is anxious to go immediately
after the sex (a sign you may have been inconsiderate or creepy), your
third helped get you to that blissed-out state and deserves to bask a
bit in the afterglow too.
Does the toe make a good substitute for the penis?
I have large breasts. My partners are either like, “YAY BOOOOBS!”
or they ignore my breasts entirely. What is it with that? How do I get
people to interact with my breasts like they’re another nice body part
and not a bizarre thing?
By using your words. If there was a way you didn’t like to be kissed,
presumably you would speak up rather than endure lousy kisses. Same
applies here: “I have big boobs, and they’re great, and I love them—but
‘YAY BOOOOBS!’ makes me feel like I’m only my tits, which isn’t a nice
feeling. That said, I don’t want my boobs ignored, either. The sweet
spot really isn’t that hard to hit—enjoy my boobs like you would any
other nice body part.” That said, some people really, really like big
boobs and it’s going to be hard for them to contain their excitement.
“YAY BOOOOBS” could be an understandable and forgivable first
reaction on their part and an opening that allows you to have a conversation
about bodies, consideration, and consent.
by Dan Savage
My girlfriend wants to try fisting, but my hands are really large. Any
ideas for how to get around that?
A hired hand.
Tell my boyfriend to go down on me!
If your boyfriend won’t go down on you unless some fag advice columnist
tells him to—if his girlfriend asking isn’t good enough—then it’s
you I want to order around (break up with him!), not your boyfriend.
My boyfriend is 10 years older than me. Also, he’s the first boyfriend
I’ve had in 10 years. I’m used to being single—and while he is great
(sexy, amazing, smart), I feel like I’m losing parts of myself. I’m not
doing the stuff my prior loneliness made it easy for me to do, creative
stuff like open-mic nights. Do we break up?
You’re no longer lonely—you’ve got a boyfriend now—but you still
need time alone. Even if you live together, you don’t have to spend
every waking/non-work hour with your boyfriend—it’s not healthy to
spend every waking/non-work hour with your significant other. But
instead of heading to open-mic night because you’re lonely and bored
and have nothing else to do, now you’re going to go to that open-mic
night (and go alone) because you enjoy it, you need the creative outlet,
and it’s healthy for a couple to have time apart.
Thank you, Dan. Five years ago, I was miserable in a sexless marriage.
Tonight I’m here with my fabulous boyfriend and my hot sub. Thanks
to your advice!
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Email Dan at
@fakedansavage on Twitter
54 | MAY 2017 • BEATROUTE