BeatRoute Magazine AB print e-edition - May 2017

beatroute

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

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

Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra • Fairy Tales • The Shins • Flatliners • PMMA • Ares Kingdom • Feist


FIXED

Editor’s Note/Pulse 4

Bedroom Eyes 7

Vidiot 15

Edmonton Extra 28-30

Book Of Bridge 32

Letters From Winnipeg 33

This Month in Metal 43

Savage Love 54

FEATURES

The Rumble 16-17

CITY 8-13

Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Theatre

Junction

FILM 12-15

FairyTales Film Festival, Ice Blue, Sensitive

Parts, Animation Lockdown

Tom of Finland

plays at The Plaza

Friday, May 26

TABLE OF CONTENTS

MUSIC

rockpile 18-33

The Shins, The Flatliners, Comeback Kid,

PMMA, Child Actress, Jojo, Ultrviolence,

Transit 22, Sellout, CJ Ramone, Wyldlyfe

jucy 34-37

Bwana, Eats Everything

roots 38-39

BluesCool, Gregory Alan Isakov,

Larissa Tandy

shrapnel 41-43

Ares Kingdom, Cro-Mags, Mind Mold

REVIEWS

music 45-51

Feist and much more ...

live 52

Juggalo Fest

BEATROUTE

Publisher/Editor-in-Chief

Brad Simm

Marketing Manager

Glenn Alderson

Production Coordinator

Hayley Muir

Web Producer

Masha Scheele

Editor

Colin Gallant

Managing Editor

arah Kitteringham

Section Editors

City :: Brad Simm

Film :: Jonathan Lawrence

Calgary Beat :: Willow Grier

Edmonton Extra :: Levi Manchak

Book of (Leth)Bridge :: Courtney Faulkner

Letters From Winnipeg :: Julijana Capone

Jucy :: Paul Rodgers

Roots :: Liam Prost

Shrapnel :: Sarah Kitteringham

Reviews :: Jamie McNamara

This Month’s Contributing Writers

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

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

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

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

Shane Sellar • Kaje Annihilatrix • Dan Savage • Claire Miglionico

This Month’s Contributing Photographers & Illustrators

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

Front Cover

Sebastian Buzzalino

Advertising

Ron Goldberger

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

Distribution

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

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

e-mail: editor@beatroute.ca

website: www.beatroute.ca

E-Edition

Yumpu.com/BeatRoute

Connect with BeatRoute.ca

Facebook.com/BeatRouteAB

Twitter.com/BeatRouteAB

Instagram.com/BeatRouteAB

Copyright © BEATROUTE Magazine 2017

BEATROUTE • MAY 2017 | 3


pulse

ADULT ENTERTAINMENT

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!

Broken City

Sunday, May 28 3-5pm

Tickets $40

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


CITY

KARL HIRZER

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

profession.”

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

the background.”

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,”

he says.

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

thoughtful perspective.

“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


MODEL CITIZEN

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.

CITY

BEATROUTE • MAY 2017 | 9


GLACIAL SYKWALK

dancing with architecture

by B.Simm

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

the adventure-seekers.

• 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)

experience itself.”

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.

Photo: sturgessarchitecture.blogspot.ca

10 | MAY 2017 • BEATROUTE CITY


FILM

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

popular media.

Our Sassy Wise Mermaid is here to represent both the wisdom present

in our community and address the lack of body positive characters in

traditional media.

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

queer community.

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

festival?

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

RETRO GALA

SATURDAY, MAY 20

CLOSING GALA

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.

BOUND

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.

Awards:

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.

Thursday

MAY 18

Friday

MAY 19

Festival

SCHEDULE

Sunday Monday Wednesday

MAY 21 MAY 22 MAY 24

Saturday

MAY 20

Thursday

MAY 25

Friday

MAY 26

Saturday

MAY 27

Y

Closing Gala

Soft Launch

Drag Party

Y

Opening Gala

5PM

MAJOR!

5PM

REAL BOY

Plus

ASEXUAL: A LOVE STORY

YCentrepiece

Gala

5PM

TIES THAT BIND

SHORT FILMS

7PM

KINGS, QUEENS

& IN-BETWEENS

7PM

AWOL

7PM

CHECK IT

7PM

TWO SOFT THINGS,

TO HARD THINGS

7PM

MAMMA MIA!

6:30PM

QUEER PEOPLE

OF COLOUR

SHORT FILMS

Y

YQMP Gala

PG

Plus

7PM

BITTERSWEET

7PM

CHEMSEX

7PM

GIRL ON GIRL

Plus

MEZZO

9PM

FAKE MOUSTACHE

DRAG KING TROUP

9PM

CENTRE OF

MY WORLD

9PM

BOUND

9PM

GLORIA & GRACE

Plus

THE WEDDING

PATROL

9PM

OUT RUN

PG

9PM

COMING OUT

MONOLOGUES

9PM

TOM OF

FINLAND

9PM

VOLUNTEER PARTY

& MYSTERY FILM

Plus

QUEER

HUTTERITE

Y

Retro Gala

Y10PM

Kink Party

STAY CONNECTED! Like us on facebook (Fairy Tales Queer Film Festival)

& follow us on Twitter: #fairytalesYYC, Instagram

FILM

BEATROUTE • MAY 2017 | 13


ICE BLUE

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

accomplished.”

Ice Blue is currently looking at a fall release and possibly

a part of the festival run later this year.

SENSITIVE PARTS

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

bigger vision.

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


ANIMATION

LOCKDOWN

four day animation jam by Victoria Banner

THE VIDIOT

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

be awarded.

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

open interpretation.”

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.

FILM

Hidden Figures

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

in present-day.

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

amok.

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.

The Founder

Everyone already knows that McDonald’s was the

result of the Devil copulating with a kids’ birthday

party clown.

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.

Split

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

cancer.

Hidden Figures

The real reason NASA never employed female

astronauts was because there were no kitchens

on-board.

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

times.

Career defining performers from both leads and

a decent array of melodies further enhance this

charmer.

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

steal them.

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.

Split

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…

Vidiot

BEATROUTE • MAY 2017 | 15


THE RUMBLE

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


THE RUMBLE

fifty

shades

of

bitter

sweet

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.”

ROCKPILE

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

overriding everything.

“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


ROCKPILE

THE SHINS

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

the pogo.”

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

newest offering.

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

ROCKPILE

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

viewing online.

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).

THE FLATLINERS

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.”

He pauses.

“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

ready.”

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


LAURICE

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

household name.

“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

superficial level.

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


COMEBACK KID

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

upon entry.”

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

experience.”

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).

PMMA

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

ROCKPILE

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


CHILD ACTRESS

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

more personal.

“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

unfinished songs.

“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.

JOJO

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

than anything.”

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


ULTRVIOLENCE

philosophy in solitude

photo: Jared Jespersen

“I

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

ring true.”

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

prairie solitude.

“I think you’re called to make that post-punk sound,” acknowledges

Jespersen.

On Forty Knives that call rings true.

Ultrviolence will be streaming Forty Knives exclusively at BeatRoute.ca

starting May 12.

SELLOUT

barreling out the gate

by Keeghan Roleau

TRANSIT22

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

ROCKPILE

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

https://selloutpunk.bandcamp.com/.

BEATROUTE • MAY 2017 | 25


26 | MAY 2017 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE


EDMONTON EXTRA

SLATES

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

method.

“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

process.”

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 [1993] and Pixies’ Surfer Rosa

[1988] 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).

EAMON MCGRATH

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


SWITCHES

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

away.

“In terms of touring, nothing is planned right now

but you should definitely wait for a new album,”

McMahon hinted.

“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).

OLD WIVES

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.

ROCKPILE

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

24 (Calgary).

BEATROUTE • MAY 2017 | 29


THE BLAME-ITS

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

confirms.

“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.”

BETRAYERS

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

confirms.

“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

https://thebetrayers.bandcamp.com/.

30 | MAY 2017 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE


BOOK OF BRIDGE

COPE

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

drummer Hayward.

“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

Wiebe.

“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

Wiebe.

“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

that.”

“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

wrists are.”

“Mother Russia,” a song about star-crossed

lovers, on either side of the iron curtain, ties the

EP together.

“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 says.

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

(Swift Current).

32 | MAY 2017 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE


letters from winnipeg

MICAH ERENBERG

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

many others.

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

high school.

“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

ROCKPILE

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

be uplifting.”

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

unharmed.”

Karmic indeed.

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.

bandcamp.com.

BETH

dark visions

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

from.

“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

good material.’”

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

record’s spaciousness.

“We spent a lot of time writing, re-writing, and

knit-picking over single lines and guitar parts,” Wolf

says.

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

live shows.

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,

visit whoisbeth.bandcamp.com.

photo: Georgia Morrison

BEATROUTE • MAY 2017 | 33


JUCY

BWANA

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

anymore.”

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

revivals offer.

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,”

Micay explains.

“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

(Calgary).

photo: Brana Lalin and Johnathan Micay

Bwana offers a progressive take on techno.

JUCY

BEATROUTE • MAY 2017 | 35


EATS EVERYTHING

embracing mentorship with North American tour by Jamie McNamara

LET’S

GET JUCY!

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.

#blessed

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?

pleasure.

• 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

Eats Everything.

“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

and California.”

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

19 (Vancouver).

Catch genre-bending booty bouncer Addison Groove at Habitat on May 11.

photo: Michael Benz

36 | MAY 2017 • BEATROUTE JUCY


ROOTS

BLUES’COOL

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

and confidence.”

With a desire to connect like-minded kids,

Stevens and her YoMomma crew ‘band’ together to

encourage those ready to take their favourite hobby

more seriously.

“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

Nation Army.

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

ROOTS

by Zachary Moon

photo: Blue Caleel

head making sure that actually happened.”

The fresh arrangements helped the songs take on

new life.

“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.

LARISSA TANDY

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

on tight.

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

Songwriter Residency.

It appears this is one gem that is currently being

unearthed.

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).

photo: Hopkins

BEATROUTE • MAY 2017 | 39


SHRAPNEL

ARES KINGDOM

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

“Mike

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

Kansas City.

“Besides,” he continues, “it’s not like we’re trying

to outrun our history. And really, the two bands are

very similar.”

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

Chuck’s lament.

“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.

SHRAPNEL

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

easy task.

“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

follow-up.

“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

improved on.

“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

would suspect.

“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

Begrime Exemious.

BEATROUTE • MAY 2017 | 41


CRO-MAGS

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

distractions.

“Sorry, I’m on the road,” McGowan explains of his

elusiveness.

“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

cooled.

“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

(Vancouver).

MIND MOLD

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

Mind Mold.

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,”

clarifies LaChance.

“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

late 2000s.

“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,”

he says.

“The production [on Mind Mold] is

probably about as eerie but less cold. It’s a

sliding scale.”

Lyrically, the themes are cerebral.

“The recording mostly focuses on the

sanctity of the human mind in various forms,”

they explain.

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

repeated listens.

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


This Month

In METAL

May is shaping up to be ridiculously

crammed with album releases, shows,

and festivals.

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

other locations.

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

(Vancouver).

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.

SHRAPNEL

photo: Monika Deviat

BEATROUTE • MAY 2017 | 43


musicreviews

Feist

Pleasure

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


Gorillaz

Humanz

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

success.

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

visual art.

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

mostly nonsense.

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

record.

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

Kendrick Lamar

DAMN.

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

Slowdive

Slowdive

Dead Oceans

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

forefront.

• Alec Warkentin


ANAMAI

What Mountain

Halocline Trance

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

Crooked Bangs

II

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

progresses.

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

Mac DeMarco

This Old Dog

Captured Tracks

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

recycled.

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

Fast Romantics

American Love

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

Forest Swords

Compassion

Ninja Tune

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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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

Trumpeting Ecstasy

Profound Lore

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

Rocket

Domino

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

getting started.

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

Girlpool

Powerplant

Anti- Records

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

Hollerado

Born Yesterday

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

territory.

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

latest LP.

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

non-standard tunings.

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

Girlpool

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

AUM

Independent

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

John Moreland

Big Bad Luv

4AD

John Moreland plays tunes for the Greyhound,

BEATROUTE • MAY 2017 | 49


Perfume Genius

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

War Moans

Sargent House

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.

Almost.

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

show.

• Gareth Watkins

The Northern Coast

Revelry

Independent

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

six cuts.

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

and surprising.

• Mike Dunn

Overcoats

Young

Arts & Crafts

A friendship; vocal marriage; clean, simple, all

encompassing.

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

Papaver Cousins

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

Perfume Genius

No Shape

Matador Records

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

jubilant.

• Trent Warner

SLATES

Summery

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

Sylvan Esso

What Now

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

Woods

Love is Love

Woodsist

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

Charli XCX

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

rhythms.

“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

Charli XCX

Number 1 Angel

Independent

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


livereviews

We Are All Juggalos

the world’s most ridiculed aren’t all that bad

CANADIAN JUGGALO WEEKEND

MARQUEE STAGE & FESTIVAL TENT

April7-8

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

“normal” people.

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


SAVAGE LOVE

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

is pee?

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?

Good-bye.

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

babysitter.

Will you plug stoptrumpswall.org?

Why not?

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?

No.

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!

You’re welcome!

Listen to Dan at

savagelovecast.com

Email Dan at

mail@savagelove.net

Follow Dan

@fakedansavage on Twitter

54 | MAY 2017 • BEATROUTE

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