Spoon • AJJ • Ashley Hundred • Jedi Mind Tricks • Blind Pilot • Fringe Festival • Zaum • Arcade Fire
Bedroom Eyes 7
Book Of Bridge 24
Edmonton Extra 32-34
Letters From Winnipeg 35
Month in Metal 45
Savage Love 54
Circle The Wagons 26-31
Fringe Fest, Skiffle, YYCscene
Tarantino Double Feature, CIFF Preview,
The Mutilator, Things To See In August
Reggae Fest August 17-19
Etana’s name means “The Strong One” in
Swahili. Since debuting in 2006 the Jamaican-born
singer has established herself as
one of the most powerful and distinctive
voices in Reggae, blazing a new trail in a
genre that has long been male-dominated.
Etana will take the Reggae Fest stage
by storm on Saturday, August 19.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Spoon, AJJ, Julius Sumner Miller,
The Ashley Hundred, Slut Prophet,
Dri-Hiev, Shooting Guns, Little Lamb,
Blake Unruly, Reggae Fest, White Reaper
Jedi Mind Tricks, Beastie Boys Tribute,
Edmonton Folk Fest, Blind Pilot,
Sam Weber, Susto
Zaum, Pervcore, Phyllactery
Arcade Fire, Kacy &Clayton, Grizzly
Bear, Sheer Mag and much more ...
Calgary Folk Fest, The Melvins and more
Social Media Coordinator
City :: Brad Simm
Film :: Jonathan Lawrence
Calgary Beat :: Willow Grier
Rockpile :: Jodi Brak
Edmonton Extra :: Brittany Rudyck
Book of (Leth)Bridge :: Courtney Faulkner
Letters From Winnipeg :: Julijana Capone
Jucy :: Paul Rodgers
Roots :: Liam Prost
Shrapnel :: Sarah Kitteringham
Reviews :: Jamie McNamara
Christine Leonard • Arielle Lessard • Sarah Mac • Amber McLinden • Kennedy Enns • Jennie
Orton • Michael Grondin • Mathew Silver • Kevin Bailey • Jackie Klapak •
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BEATROUTE • AUGUST 2017 | 3
A Calgary-based cocktail event committed to supporting, promoting and
growing the cocktail industry in Calgary and sharing its stories around
the world will take place in August 12-14. Over the course of three days,
the ticket price affords venue passort that allows you to roam around
some of Calgary’s finest lounge’s were you can mingle with bartenders,
industry folks and lovers of good tasting spirits. In addition, there’s some
enticing seminars and workshops that will pull you deeper into the magic
of making beautiful cocktails. For detailed information on PEELED, go to
THE HISTORY OF COCKTAILS WITH DALE DEGROFF
Dale DeGroff, a.k.a. King Cocktail, is a defining figure in the art of
the cocktail. His book “The Craft of the Cocktail,” published in 2002,
is an essential bartending guide. He is the founding president of the
Museum of the American Cocktail in New Orleans. In the late 1980s
he rose to prominence in the New York Rockefeller Center’s Rainbow
Room, where he pioneered a gourmet approach to recreating classic
cocktails. As chief drinkslinger in the heart of one of New York City’s
most prestigious bars, his exposure to the weird and wonderful core
of Western culture means his stories, experiences and knowledge
may be stranger than fiction.
THE PEELED PASSPORT
This little black book is more than your festival guide, it’s your Passport
to a world of cocktails waiting to be explored across 14 of the best drinking
establishments in Calgary.
THE GRAND EVENT
Held at the Bank and Baron, intrepid attendees have been touring the
city, stamping their Peeled Passport and brushing up on the finer points
of the cocktail art at workshops and seminars. Come together for the
main event of the weekend and witness high flying aerials, burlesque
performers, daring fire acts, and live music.
The Calgary Underground Film Festival have confirmed the details of our summer
movie series, and once again we’re presenting FIELD TRIPS OF TERROR this August.
MATINEE (1993, Dir. Joe Dante) – Thursday Aug. 17
Location: Eau Claire Distillery
Ticket includes BassBus transportation to Eau Claire Distillery, popcorn and a tour
& tasting at Distillery before film.
THE BLOB (1988, Dir. Chuck Russell) – Saturday Aug. 26
Location: Lukes Drug Mart (Bridgeland)
Free Entrance, All Ages
4 | AUGUST 2017 • BEATROUTE
CIRCLE THE WAGONS
Circus fun for everyone... Currie Park Sept. 9th
• Three stages by BassBus including 22 Artists
• Three bars by Village Brewery. Site Wide Liquor License!
• 13+ Food Trucks by YYCFoodTrucks
• The Fast ‘n’ Furriest Weiner Dog Race
• NEW Carnival Market featuring over 30 unique vendors
• Main Stage Circus Acts and Roaming Circus Performers
• NEW Kids Stage
• Circus School for kids
• Lego Land
• NEW Hammock Lounge in the forest
• Bubble Soccer
• 30 foot inflatable climbing wall
• Giant Inflatable obstacle course
9PM - NO COVER
12 ICE COLD
OVER 30 BRANDS OF
BEER & CIDER
Photo: Parallel Imaging
124 10 STREET NW • CALGARY ALBERTA
BEATROUTE • AUGUST 2017 | 7
CALGARY FRINGE FEST
uncensored, unexpected, unforgettable theatre
Now entering its second decade,
Michele Gallant, Festival Director and
Producer of the Calgary Fringe Festival,
explains what Calgary’s Fringe is all about
and why there’s a riot going on...
Over 32 local, national, and international
indoor performance artists!
“They come from all over,” says Gallant,
“from our own city all the way to the Land
All the acts are selected by lottery draw, or first come, first serve!
“Some of the artists are seasoned performance professionals, some are brand new novices who’ve always
wanted to be on stage. This selection process levels the playing field. Everyone has just as equal a chance of
getting in. We don’t segregate or discriminate. The performances range anywhere from physical theatre to
sketch comedy, improv to drama, storytelling to puppetry, monologues to musicals, kids’ theatre to poetry.
Any type of performance can be found here. This is ‘Anything Goes Theatre’ and there’s something for
everyone. I always encourage patrons to take a chance and go see a show they would not normally choose for
themselves. Stretch outside your box a little, you just might surprise yourself!”
Uncensored Theatre Festival
“Uncensored means we do not restrict what the artists want to present on stage, or how they want to do that.
I have only two rules for the artists: (1) give plain disclosure as to what your show is about so the patron can
make an informed decision on whether or not it’s appropriate for them to see, and (2) don’t break the law.
Otherwise, whatever you want to throw up on stage, you just go right ahead!”
No ticket price over $15!
“The artists get to select from a ticket range of $10 as a minimum to $15 as a maximum per ticket. The goal is
to make it affordable and accessible for audiences of all ages to come out and attend. One hundred percent of
the artist set ticket price goes directly back to the artist. We don’t hold any money back, other than the GST
and ticketing surcharges. Another thing that is truly, uniquely Fringe!”
Most shows are only an hour in length, and most venues located in Inglewood within easy walking distance!
“It’s a really great opportunity to see back-to-back shows, and so handily. One regular theatre show could be
over 2.5 hours. In that time, you could see two to three different Fringe shows and for typically cheaper than
what you would normally pay for one regular theatrical show ticket. Really great value for your money.”
Calgary Fringe Festival runs for nine days!
“You won’t believe how many people think we are just a weekend festival. But we are not . We run for nine
full days, starting the Friday of the August long
weekend, all through to the following Saturday,
Aug. 12. So you’ll have lots of opportunity to see
shows without missing out!”
It’s all about the Hugs!
“There’s a saying at the Calgary Fringe... ‘There are
no handshakes, only hugs!’ It’s about community
and inclusitivty, not exclusivity. We see ourselves
as all one big happy family!”
“Listen, I’m ok. I have a pesky cancer tumour in
my left jug, but I’m not dying and I’m the luckiest
person in the entire world. Cos f*ck cancer, man.
For a complete schedule and artists’ bios go to calgaryfringe.ca
YYSCENE’s quick scan go-to-guide for August...
After a quick scan of what’s
coming up this month, I see
that August is, clearly, festival month
in and around Calgary. How so, you
ask? Well get a load of this vast array
of festival action that’s sure to have
something for everyone:
Loud as Hell Fest at the Drumheller
Stampede Grounds. Yes, I know, it’s
not in Calgary, but Drumheller’s not
that far – it’s an hour-and-a-half drive.
They have a giant dinosaur, they have
a great Greek restaurant, and from
Good ol’ Shakey Graves Aug. 11 at The Palace
Aug. 4-6 they’ll have Loud as Hell Fest
featuring Battlecross, Black Wizard, Bison & Aggression and many, many more rock/metal
acts that I’m sure the majority of the residents of that fine town would cringe at.
One Love Music Festival takes place at the Max Bell Festival Grounds Aug. 4 with
headliners Ms. Lauryn Hill (LAURYN HILL!), Migos, Anderson Paak & The Free Nationals,
RZA as Bobby Digital featuring Stone Mecca, Wale and a bunch of other fine performers.
Lauryn. Hill. (*ladyswoon*)
Chasing Summer Festival will take place hot on One Love’s heels Aug. 5-6, also at Max
Bell Festival Grounds. Who’s playing, you ask? Tiësto, W&W, Infected Mushroom, Tritonal,
Illennium, What So Not, Kill The Noise, Grandtheft, Daijo,Zedd, Jauz, Slushii, Rezz,
Delta Heavy, Spag Heddy, Bleep Bloop, Smalltown Djs ... Tons o’ acts. Bleep Bloop.
Blues Fest at Shaw Millennium Park will run until Aug. 6 and will feature Big Bill Morganfield,
Bob Hall and Lil’ Jimmy Reed, Paul DeLauriers Band, Angel Forrest Band, Amos
Garrett and the Eh! Team, Dale Spalding and more. Always more.
Calgary Fringe Festival is a celebration of some amazing theatre/performances taking
place Aug. 4-12 throughout Inglewood. Go get some culture! Wow. Bossy.
Aug. 10-13 you’ll want to head down to Eau Claire Market for the Taste of Calgary food
extravaganza. Buy some tickets, try some food, find a new favourite restaurant. Done!
Dear god, the festivals never end ... Tour de Bowness Street Festival is happening along
Mainstreet Bowness on Aug. 7, with the actual Tour de Bowness featuring a road race,
hill climb and criterium (that’s cycling, people) happening over three days, Aug. 5-7.
Not a festival! Echo & the Bunnymen will be thrilling aging scenesters on Aug. 6 at
MacEwan Ballroom, while The Decemberists will perform for all of the scenesters Aug. 9
at MacEwan Hall.
Aug. 11 you’ll want to check out Shakey Graves with David Ramirez at The Palace Theatre,
on the 18th head to the Palomino for Ringwalds with Julius Sumner Miller, Unban
Jance and Cheap Beer, and the month ends with Die Antwoord being the show to catch
on Aug. 30 at BMO Centre.
Kari Watson is a writer and former Listings Editor of FFWD Weekly, and has continued
to bring event listings to Calgary through theYYSCENE and her event listings page, The
Culture Cycle. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor, writer, events listings curator
Jokes, truths and poignant bits from a comic
who survived breast cancer... Hilariously honest,
uproariously funny, devastating, heartfelt.
WINNER: Most Outstanding Solo Show
(Ottawa 2016), Adelaide Fringe Award
(Theatre 2017), Best Theatre (Dunedin
2016), F*ck the Patriarchy Award
BEATROUTE • AUGUST 2017 | 9
In Fine Style
Wilfred Limonious, the king of Jamacian dancehall album art, immortalized in new book
Few artists could
create a sense
of scene like
Wilfred Limonious: big
booties wind down
low, rudeboy rats
swagger beneath bassy
sound systems that
ooze island dub and
soar sky high, while a
cartoon donkey tears
off into the sunset on
a motorbike. It sounds
like a rum drenched,
hallucinogenic trip but
it was all just a typical
day in the lysergic life of
A master architect
of album art, Jamacian-born
(1949-1999) single- handedly created some of the most memorable reggae
and dancehall LP covers of all time. His highly recognizable style, quick wit
and bold saccharine characters gave life to the music inside the sleeves.
Inspiring countless artists in the ‘80s and ‘90s, jacket designers today and
Major Lazer’s entire visual aesthetic for starters.
Despite Limonious’ enormous output and legendary impact on the
scene, when he passed away nearly two decades ago, his identity as an
artist somehow slipped under the radar.
That was until Christopher Bateman, a white dude from Edmonton,
hooked up with Al ‘Fingers’ Newman, a DJ and cultural historian in London
UK, to properly pay homage to the roots of one of Jamaica’s finest export.
Fusing together their shared love and respect for Limonious with a
shitload of trips to JA, and years of serious crate digging to produce a mega
slick coffee table book, In Fine Style, the first ever compilation of Limonious’
vast repertoire and his rarest, never seen before work.
Original Stalag 17–18 and 19 LP by Various Artistes (c. 1985).
BeatRoute caught up with Chris & Al to find out how it all went down.
How difficult was it tracking down all the artwork for the book?
Christopher Bateman: I first became familiar with Limonious’ work while
on tour with a ska/reggae band I played in back in 2003. We would always
hit up this one record store on St. Clare in Toronto. It was on one of those
visits that I saw the riddim compilation LP Original Stalag 17, 18 and 19
which has Limonious’ iconic prison scene. The cover was too exciting to
pass up on. I started collecting a lot of reggae LPs and I kept coming across
sleeves designed by Limonious. I couldn’t believe no one
had put out a book on someone with his talent
and ability to set a scene in such a vibrant way.
Eventually, I became so interested that I
found myself looking into the possibility
of compiling this book myself!
I wasn’t a published writer, I wasn’t
a curator. I was just excited about
I sent out a bunch of emails and
phone calls trying to track down
anyone that knew Limonious and
booked a flight to Jamaica. When I got
back to Toronto I bought Al’s book,
Greensleeves: The First 100 Covers,
from the Stussy store and loved it so
much. It was exactly what I was trying
to accomplish with the Limonious project,
but without having any experience.
It turned out Al was also a massive
Limonious fan and had checked out
a wordpress I’d set up expressing my
interest in putting a book together and
wanted to do the same. After numerous
failed attempts we finally got in touch
and the rest is pretty much history!
Al Newman: Material for the book has
come from collectors all around
Center-label for Don Sutton King’s Don King label, featuring
Limonious’ signature dots.
the world..some harder to find and
photograph than others. In the last
few years, we came in contact with a
collector in Japan who had a lot later
pieces by Limonious which are really
different to his other stuff.
Limonious was a busy man. He was
a cartoonist, designed 7” labels, put
out two singles of his own, and by
a long shot the hottest dancehall
sleeve artist on the scene. Who all
was he producing artwork for?
CB: So many artists... Michael
Palmer, Frankie Paul, Jah Thomas,
Early B, Prince Jazzbo’s Ujama label,
Coxsone Dodd’s Studio One label,
AN: Leroy Smart, Barrington Levy,
Prince Jammy, Ossie Thomas, Winston
Riley’s Techniques label, the list
goes on for a very long time.
How did he keep up?
AL: Limonious could draw portraits
super quick. If you were coming up
the hill by his house, he would have
a portrait waiting when you reached
the top. The same goes when he was
putting out sleeves. Often he would
get a concept from a producer in
the morning and come back with a
finished piece the same day!
by Tracy Kawalik
His characters became one of his strongest standout trademarks.
AL: Limonious is the undisputed king of dancehall art. He had a lot of
trademarks that made him unique. The typography and signature lettering
he created and developed, his use of dots and chequerboard grids, and
super bright colours, like 100 percent yellow, 100 percent magenta, etc. But
in terms of his characters, Limonious was a master of the human form. His
work was done with an incredible amount of flavour. The ease and fluidity
with which he drew his characters is unmatched.
CB: Limonious’ covers came to be a mark of a really great album. People
were buying his albums off the strength of
his cover alone. The angles of things like
elbows and knees, or a quivering lip
on Limonious’ characters were both
realistic and impossible and something
that no other artists were doing.
They’re on another level.
He was a master of the booty as
AN: Ha! Limonious loved to draw
fluffy women! There is a quote in
the book from Jamaican designer,
Jethro ‘Paco’ Dennis, who said that
when artists in the studio got requests
for LP covers featuring ladies
with big bottoms, they would be
like, “No man, this one is directly a
What was your first Limonious
CB: One of my earliest Limonious
purchases was the LP for
Original Stalag 17-18 And 19.
It was a must-buy based on the
AN: It’s the Stalag LP for me, too. It’s one of Limonious’ most wellknown
covers, set in a prison-yard-turned-dancehall with inmates
and guards dancing and a pair of ragga rats grinding in the corner.
One of the rats is proposing marriage. The scribbled commentary
is classic Limonious: “Bubble under it bredah rat”, “A dem rat yah
nyam up man ina prison” and,“This rat tail will bore coconut.” That
one gets me every time.
What surprised you most about Limonious’ of everything you
AN: What I found fascinating was that although his artwork is often
loud and outrageous, people who knew him described him as
a quiet and sensitive man who generally kept himself to himself.
CB: The biggest surprise for me was his work as an established
cartoonist. His first ever published work was in 1970, for The Star
in a comic section called Laugh With Us. Followed up in the ‘80s
and early ‘90s with Chicken his most popular strip, Shane and
Shawn which featured his own sons, and Earth Runnings, a comic
where he name checks many of his friends, producers and artists
from the industry.
Being so notorious how the hell did he remain so unknown?
AN: Before word got out and artists went direct to Limonious for
sleeves, producers in Jamaica back then handled everything in
house. Those early Limonious album’s were so fresh and so insanely
popular that the producers kept Limonious’ identity a secret, so
that way you had to go through them if you wanted his work.
On an international scale it’s true that the name Wilfred Limonious
is virtually unknown, particularly in the art world. Which is
crazy when cover designers from other genres like jazz and rock
have been much more widely celebrated. I’d like to think we’ve
thankfully changed that and finally put Limonious on the map.
In Fine Style is available to order from www.onelovebooks.com.
Stacey May Fowles
10 | AUGUST 2017 • BEATROUTE CITY
BEATROUTE • AUGUST 2017 | 11
TARANTINO DOUBLE FEATURE
The Fifth Reel presents Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction
Close out the summer movie seasons with bloody style.
As much as we hate to admit it,
summer is coming to an end.
Pretty soon, we will all be back
to wearing long pants and drinking our
beer indoors. But don’t fret; lucky for us,
the Fifth Reel is closing out their summer
programming in really the only acceptable
way: a Quentin Tarantino double
feature. They will be screening Tarantino’s
first two flicks, Reservoir Dogs (1992)
and Pulp Fiction (1994), so put on your
black suits and ties, grab a pre-show
Royale with Cheese, and get ready for a
blood-splattered good time.
A heist film where you never actually
see the heist, Reservoir Dogs is a first of
its kind. In Tarantino’s directorial debut,
we see the events leading up to, and the
inevitable aftermath, of a diamond heist
gone wrong. Presented in Tarantino’s signature
nonlinear style, the film opens on
the morning of the heist in a diner where
one of the robbers, codenamed Mr. Brown
(played by none other than Mr. Tarantino
himself), tries to convince the rest of the
colourful band of thieves that Madonna’s
1984 pop classic “Like a Virgin” is really just
a “metaphor for big dicks.” After mob boss
and planner of the heist, Joe Cabot (Lawrence
Tierney), pays the bill (with Mr.Pink
[Steve Buscemi] having paid his “fair share”
of the tip), the ramblers get ramblin’, and
in an opening credit sequence for the ages,
the gang takes a slow-motion walk out the
diner set to the George Baker Selection’s
ditty, “Little Green Bag.”
As the opening scene suggests, you can
expect punchy dialogue with a generous
helping of profanity, and a soundtrack chock
full of seventies gems delivered to you via the
fictional radio show “K-Billy’s Super Sounds
of the Seventies” (voiced by comedian
Stephen Wright). An indie-lover’s wet dream,
Reservoir Dogs is easily one of the 20th
century’s best directorial debuts (Take that,
While Reservoir Dogs was the film that
got Tarantino’s name out there, it was Pulp
Fiction that cemented his name in cult
status. Frequently regarded as Tarantino’s
masterpiece, this neo-noir serves as a touchstone
of nineties culture and can be found
on every film-bro’s top ten list.
Equal parts crime and comedy, Pulp
Fiction intertwines the stories of some of
Los Angeles’ seediest residents through
(another) nonlinear series of episodic events,
sprinkled with a healthy dose of Tarantino’s
signature witty dialogue, nonsensical blood
splatter, and liberal use of the word “fuck.”
Mirroring the opening scene of Reservoir
Dogs, we drop in on a pair of criminals in an
all-American diner preparing for their heist.
A couple of small-time crooks, Pumpkin
(Tim Roth) suggests to his girlfriend and
partner in crime, Honey Bunny (Amanda
by Morgan Cairns
Plummer), that restaurants would be a safer
and more lucrative option to rob than the
liquor stores and gas stations they usually
stick-up. Just then, Honey Bunny jumps on
the table and says, “Any of you fucking pricks
move, and I’ll execute every motherfucking
last one of ya.” Cue the opening credits and
Dick Dales and the Del-Tones’ “Miserlou.”
By the end of the film, we come around
full circle and see just how that heist went
down, along with three other interconnecting
stories, including Vincent Vega (John
Travolta) and Mia Wallace’s (Uma Thurman)
wild night out and Butch (Bruce Willis)’s
run in with mob boss Marcellus Wallace
(Ving Rhames), all in an effort to recover his
father’s watch. And, of course, we see the
fate of poor mob informant Marvin. Poor,
Echoing Reservoir Dogs in structure, style,
quirk, and cast (with repeat performances
from Tim Roth, Harvey Keitel, and Steve
Buscemi), Pulp Fiction is best viewed in
immediate succession of its predecessor.
With Calgary’s favourite new-wave duo,
Aiwass, serving as the night’s musical guest
and improv group The Kinkonauts taking on
hosting duties, this isn’t your average Friday
night at the movies. And thank fucking god
The Tarantino double-feature can be seen on
August 18 at 9 p.m. at the Globe Cinema.
Calgary’s biggest film fest returns
by Jonathan Lawrence
It’s hard to believe, folks, but the great Calgary International Film
Festival (no longer shortened as CIFF, but Calgary Film) is only a month
away from its 18th iteration.
There have been some recent announcements from the Calgary Film
programmers in regards to ticket sales and other updates. Tickets will go on
sale online a week earlier this year (August 30), coinciding with their festival
launch that details their full lineup and schedule. The staff at Calgary Film
hopes that this will allow people to plan their festival experience further in
advance, as there are so many films to see and planning your schedule as an
attendee can be time-consuming.
They will also be announcing their headliner films and showing off their
updated logo at their first press conference on August 2, which will be
streamed on Facebook live for those unable to attend.
Details regarding the opening gala are still undisclosed, but Telefilm’s Movie
Nights Across Canada series is reported to play a large role. According to
their Twitter bio, it’s a cross-country tour that brings together “government,
media, and the arts to celebrate past, present and emerging Canadian TV and
film talent” - both in front of and behind the camera. The year-long tour of
screenings will happen in conjunction with Canada’s 150 celebrations.
Furthermore, they will make be making a wave of announcements
each week in August. After that will be the second annual Trailer Party in
Last but not least, there will be a free screening of the film Feast at the Ship
& Anchor on August 20 to coincide with the announcement of the festival’s
late night series. The Calgary Film website describes Feast as a “disgustingly
funny horror flick that will leave you chuckling and cringing all the same.”
They will be serving Big Rock beverages and free popcorn at this event.
Offscreen, Calgary Film is taking great strides to reduce their environmental
footprint this year by eliminating printed program guides. This will allow
them to do updates in a more accessible and environmentally conscious way.
If you’d like to volunteer for Calgary Film this year, you can visit their website
for details. There will be orientations on August 19 at Eau Claire Market,
and on August 23 at the Globe Cinema. It’s a great way to meet fellow film
lovers and to attend some of the screenings and events.
The Calgary International Film Festival will be held from September 20-October
1. Stay tuned for next month’s issue for more information.
We have your first look at pre-festival announcements and events.
BEATROUTE • AUGUST 2017 | 13
Night Terrors Film Society present schlocky gore-fuelled slasher
If you could summarize the months of summer as a freshly
blended piña colada, you could pluck any slasher film
falling between the late ‘70s to early ‘80s and use it as the
perfect metaphorical accentuating umbrella. Drenched not
only in deliciously candied apple plasma, a beloved staple of
the aforementioned sub-genre is the excessive promiscuity
and abuse of intoxicants. Wild in every sense of the word
are the seemingly mindless teens out to have nothing but a
good time – and whom without fail allow themselves to be
relentlessly slaughtered at a quickened pace. Paralleling the
unwritten law of heavy metal music, slasher films are quick
and sleazy. They are the dirty rock and roll of horror films,
and they ignite an insatiable lust for blood in those who have
fallen head over stiletto heels for them.
Falling at the tail end of the golden age of slasher films, The
Mutilator (1984) is often overlooked due to the over-saturation
of the genre by the year of its release. Wasting no time selling
heavily on the gore ticket, the movie poster cannot be described
as anything but a beautifully grotesque display of a scantily clad
woman suspended by rope next to three corpses as a bloodied
meat hook menacingly awaits her. Already horrifyingly gruesome,
this illustrated image only scratches the surface of the nastiness
awaiting viewers in the 86 minute runtime.
The film kicks off on a tragic note, as a sweet young boy
accidentally kills his mother while cleaning his father’s gun.
Fast-forward several years and that young boy becomes the
protagonist of the film -- a loveable college student whom
upon being contacted by his estranged father decides to visit
the old family beach house with a group of his closest friends.
Like many slash-tastic video nasties that came both before
and after, the early warning sides of imminent danger are
ignored by the oblivious teens. A home adorned with animal
carcasses, a strange photo of a mangled man, and weaponry
adorning the walls is followed by a simple explanation.
“He’s hunted everything but man,” our protagonist says of
his father. Later on when alarm is expressed upon discovering
that his father’s battle-axe is missing, it is met with immediate
laughter and dismissal. As to be expected of any vacationing
party animals, another can of beer is cracked and all is momentarily
“We’re the only ones on the island!”
The line is expressed several times foolishly throughout
Remarkably cheap and nasty, The Mutilator is unique in its
utilization in weapon variants. While Jason is known for his
machete, Freddy for his glove, Michael Myers for his kitchen
knife, victims in The Mutilator fall ‘By sword, by pick, by axe, bye
bye!’ Paying homage to more serious slashers such as The Texas
Chain Saw Massacre (1974) and Black Christmas (1974), the film
provides an equal balance of schlock and horror. Having been
released in the final year of the golden age of slashers, it exemplifies
the progression of the sub-genre and ultimately why the era
came to a close.
Undoubtedly more focused on carnage above all, it serves as
a wonderful illustration of simplistic, fun, fast-burning horror.
Despite the comedic relief provided by laughable acting, what
makes slashers so eerily effective is their undeniable anchor in realism.
Unlike ghost stories and creature features, the murderers in
these films are average people just like us. They are our friends...
Our family members... Our neighbours... They’re everywhere, and
that summates the true definition of horror in human nature.
Catch The Mutilator at a midnight screening August 25 at the
Globe Cinema (Calgary).
by Breanna Whipple
BEST FILMS TO SEE THIS MONTH
animation, art-house and a double-feature
coincidence play a role in everyday human experience.
The film combines reality with fiction, using
selected works by Friðfinnsson as a basis for the
narrative. There are several stories within the film
to emphasize this theme, one of which entails a
pair of twins who were separated at birth. The
film’s bio reads as such, according to the Esker
Foundation website: “One twin was brought up in
the mountains of Iceland and the other below sea
level in Amsterdam. Despite their shared genetics
and birth date, the different forces of gravity in
their environments have caused them to age
differently. Equally occupied with exploring the
nature of time, the twins are in fact one and the
same person, Hreinn Friðfinnsson, in present and
past.” This one is sure to cause some headaches,
in a good way of course.
Time and Time and Again will be shown at the
Esker Foundation on August 25 at 7:00 p.m.
by Jonathan Lawrence
also responsible for renowned worldwide successes,
such as Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro and
Howl’s Moving Castle. The screening will be put on
by Quickdraw Animation Society, and an animated
short film will precede each of the two screenings.
Previous screenings included Ponyo, From Up on
Poppy Hill, and future screenings will include Kiki’s
Delivery Service and Castle in the Sky.
The Secret World of Arrietty can be seen at
the Globe Cinema on August 19 for a 12 p.m.
and 7 p.m. showing.
Dave Made a Maze
There is really no film like Dave Made a Maze.
Combining quirky comedy, innovative practical
effects, and stunningly inventive visuals, this film is an
absolute must see. Why did Dave make a maze, you
ask? Frustrated by a lack of doing anything significant
in his career, Dave builds a seemingly innocent,
childlike fort constructed of duct tape and cardboard
boxes - only to be trapped within its labyrinthian
walls. “It’s much bigger on the inside,” Dave explains
to his girlfriend, who assembles a rescue squad to
save him only to be met with supernatural elements
and the wrath of an angry Minotaur. If you haven’t
seen this film yet, at least watch the trailer. It alone is
Originally seen at the Calgary Underground Film
Festival (where it won Best Narrative Feature), Dave
Made a Maze is back for two nights in Calgary on
August 11 and 12. Don’t miss it!
Dave Made a Maze will be shown at the Globe
Cinema on August 11-12 at 7 p.m.
The Secret World of Arrietty
The Secret World of Arrietty at first glance seems
strangely familiar. Isn’t this the same plot as 1997’s
The Borrowers, starring John Goodman? Well, yes,
but more specifically, its roots go back to a series
of children’s stories from the 1950s (also called The
Borrowers) about a family of four-inch-tall people
Time and Time and Again
is about the life of Icelandic artist Hreinn Friðfinnsson, who live in the walls of a normal sized English house
Courtesy of the Esker Foundation, a rather obscure, whose stark, yet poetic imagery has been exhibited and steal little things here and there. It sounds like
yet fascinating Icelandic film will be screening at their all over the world. He is notable for transcending the having roommates.
Inglewood location on August 25.
mundane into the exciting and evocative - a primary Arrietty took this idea and was turned into a beautifully
This brief 45-minute film, Time and Time and Again, theme throughout the film, along with how time and
animated film by Studio Ghibli, a Japanese studio
14 | AUGUST 2017 • BEATROUTE FILM
Avoid the summer blockbusters and catch some cool indie films instead.
rewind to the future
by Shane Sellar
The Boss Baby
The Fate of the Furious
Ghost in the Shell
Kong: Skull Island
The Boss Baby
The best time to ask your newborn boss for a raise
is when you’re changing their diaper.
Unfortunately, the CEO in this animated family
movie always has the advantage.
Tim’s (Tobey Maguire, Miles Bakshi) perfect life
is disrupted when his parents (Lisa Kudrow, Jimmy
Kimmel) have another child, Boss Baby (Alec
Baldwin). Sharply dressed and keenly acute, the
husky-voiced youngster informs Tim that he has
been sent from elsewhere to turn the tide in the
babies’ battle against puppy popularity.
But if Tim doesn’t help stop the release of an
everlasting puppy, Boss Baby will become his
An unsettling blend of low fertility rate propaganda,
Loony Tune-esque sex education and smart
mouthed infants, DreamWorks’ latest offering borrows
too heavily from funnier sources. Although
Baldwin’s voice work is exceptional as always,
nothing much else in this bizarre cartoon works.
Besides, kids already know that all babies come
The Fate of the Furious
The worst part of street racing in the summertime
is you have to slow down in construction zones.
Fortunately, the motorists in this action movie
can afford the double fines incurred.
While on a mission to retrieve an electromagnetic
pulse device for agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson),
former street-racer turned secret agent Dom
(Vin Diesel) betrays his crew (Michelle Rodriguez,
Chris Bridges, Tyrese Gibson, Nathalie) and gives
the EMP to a terrorist, Cipher (Charlize Theron).
Backed by black ops (Kurt Russell, Scott Eastwood),
Hobbs and Dom’s crew track their former
comrade to Russia, where he and Cipher have
commandeered a nuclear submarine.
Equipped with over-the-top sports car chases,
boastful banter and buckets of machismo, this
eighth installment in the Fast and Furious franchise
maintains those touchstones. However, its interpretation
of those mainstays is more cartoonish
than its predecessors.
Furthermore, due to the extreme depths they
achieve, submarines are the ultimate low-rider.
The key to conducting a successful arms deal is not
loading any of the weapons before hand.
Regretfully, the merchants in this action movie
included ammo in the exchange.
A Boston arbitrator (Brie Larson) gets embroiled
in an arms deal between IRA members (Cillian
Murphy, Sam Riley, Enzo Cilenti) and a South African
supplier (Sharlto Copley) and his go-between
(Armie Hammer) that results in a standoff.
Trapped inside of a warehouse and armed to
the teeth, each party attempts to oust the other
and escape with the cash intended for the now
Although it comes off as gritty 1970s throwback,
this claustrophobic shootout misfires more
than it hits. While the international cast is certainly
capable, the plot, the dialogue and the characters
are surprisingly weak and one-dimensional. Even
the non-stop shootouts are too pedestrian to
Moreover, arms deals should take place somewhere
public, like at a children’s festival.
Ghost in the Shell
Cybernetic implants will make it hard for women
to say their vibrating breasts are natural.
Thankfully, the enhanced lady in this sci-fi flick is
comfortable in her synthetic skin.
The mind of Section 9 assassin Major (Scarlett
Johansson) is the only part from her original
body occupying her new metal shell. But when a
cyber-terrorist (Michael Carmen Pitt) targets her
benefactor, what little memories she retained may
now be as artificial as her.
With help from her partner (Pilou Asbæk) and
designer (Juliette Binoche), Major unravels her
origins, which later leads her to a showdown with
an eight-legged mecha.
While it is pretty to look at its Neo Tokyo
aesthetic, this whitewashed and ultimately Americanized
live-action adaptation of the beloved
cyberpunk anime over-explains the narrative with
dumbed down meditations on the mind, social
unrest and future shock.
Fortunately, once your body is robotic you can
eat cured meats again.
The key to raising a gifted child is selling them to
science before you get too attached.
Unfortunately, the mother in this dramedy died
before getting her payday.
Frank (Chris Evans) gallantly accepts guardianship
of his niece Mary (Mckenna Grace) after her
mother’s death. Like her mathematician mother,
Mary has no trouble solving her first grade teacher’s
(Jenny Slate) rudimentary math problems –
and she let’s her know it.
Mary’s air of superiority soon lands her in
trouble. Luckily her talent with formulas finds her
grandmother (Lindsay Duncan) taking an invested
interest in her. So much so, she sues Frank for
A paints-by-numbers prodigy anecdote that
strokes its brush well within the lines, this charming
but predictable squabble only succeeds thanks
to its leads who bring humanity to this glorified
Incidentally, the best way to knock a know-it-all
math genius down a few pegs is with gym.
Kong: Skull Island
The most exciting aspect of finding a giant monkey
is all the cosmetic testing you can conduct on it.
Fortunately, the simian in this adventure picture
isn’t wearing any mascara yet.
Dispatched by the military to map out Skull
Island, Lt. Colonel Packard (Samuel L. Jackson), a
mercenary tracker (Tom Hiddleston), a photojournalist
(Brie Larson) and a government official
(John Goodman) arrive to find a 50-foot gorilla
protecting the natives from subterranean creatures
that roam the atoll.
Conflict erupts when half of the party wants to
kill Kong and the other half wants to save him.
The most dynamic incarnation of the 80-year
old ape, this fast-paced update set in 1973 doesn’t
waste time with exposition or character development.
Instead it gets right down to eye-popping
creature clashes that excite much more than they
Incidentally, the only way to pacify an enormous
primate is with a gigantic tire swing.
Dating during wartime is hard since most of the
restaurants and theaters are rubble.
However, the couples in this drama have been
able to find love amid a holocaust.
On the eve of WWI an Armenian medical
student (Oscar Isaac) studying in Constantinople
manages to evade conscription in the Ottoman
army long enough to fall in love with a Paris-raised
Armenian (Charlotte Le Bon). Unfortunately, she
is betrothed to an American newsman (Christian
Bale) and he is promised to a neighbour’s daughter.
All four lives collide in the aftermath of the
Great War, during Turkey’s systematic slaughter of
the Armenian people.
The Promise is a well-acted piece of historical
storytelling that doesn’t manipulate the facts of
the Armenian Genocide for the sake of fiction.
Unfortunately, the awkward love triangle only
distracts from the enormity of the massacre.
Fortunately with post-war breakups, you have
your wife stateside to console you.
The most exciting aspect of discovering a giant
lizard is waiting for its ossified bones to become oil.
However, the Japan depicted in this sci-fi feature
will be rubble by that point.
Cabinet Secretary Rando’s (Hiroki Hasegawa)
suspicion of a substantial sea creature living off
the Japanese coast is confirmed when a news
camera captures images of a massive unidentified
Panic doesn’t set in until the entity makes
landfall. Excelled evolution soon allows it to stand
upright and emit blasts of radiation.
A strategy to cool the creature’s internal fusion
is put into place.
The 31st installment in the reptilian franchise,
Godzilla Resurgence returns the character to its
nuclear roots, alluding to recent atomic disasters
that have tested Japan’s mettle. While the damage
done is on par with most kaiju movies, it’s the film’s
urgency that makes it memorable.
Incidentally, Godzilla always dresses funny after
trampling Tokyo’s Harajuku district.
He’s an Overgrown-up. He’s the…
BEATROUTE • AUGUST 2017 | 15
Austin rockers keep their hot streak
by James Olson
Spoon have been on an upward trajectory
during their quarter century long career. The
last four records released by the Austin based
indie/art rock unit have been critical and commercial
successes with Spoon’s fan base steadily
increasing since the release of 2007’s Ga Ga Ga Ga
Ga. Speaking with drummer and core member Jim
Eno on the phone in his hotel room on a tour stop
in Toronto, the band’s latest album Hot Thoughts
served as the centerpiece of our conversation.
Willfully experimental with an emphasis on synth
and keyboard driven songwriting, Hot Thoughts
can be viewed as a microcosm for everything that
has allowed Spoon to flourish creatively, maintain
longevity, and succeed on their own terms.
The distinctively different and varied sound of
Hot Thoughts is tightly connected to Spoon’s previous
album They Want My Soul (2014) in a number
of ways. Eno identifies They Want My Soul highlight
track “Inside Out” as a throughline to the sounds
and ideas that the band would explore in greater
depth on Hot Thoughts. On what is an otherwise
streamlined and precise pop/rock record punctuated
by crisp guitar work and restrained percussion,
“Inside Out” stands out as a keyboard and effects
heavy cosmic ballad. “You can kind of hear us
building from there, building from that song” Eno
says “You can hear that in songs like ‘I Ain’t the One,’
‘Pink Up,’ and a little bit on ‘First Caress.’ While it
wasn’t really conscious you can look at it now and
see it was a sort of progression.”
Eno emphasizes that Spoon is always trying to
“discover new, stylized approaches that make the
song stand on their own,” with the greater goal to
never repeat themselves; especially after releasing
nine albums. The addition of keyboardist/guitarist
Alex Fischel in 2013 has opened up the band to a
greater number of opportunities as songwriters and
performers. Fischel’s influence can be felt throughout
Hot Thoughts. “He’s a great keyboard player and
he opens up a whole new sonic palette for us” Eno
explains “It used to be that Britt would come up and
have to play the keyboard part for us, now Alex is
like a hook generator. He generates great ideas and
great melodic parts to the songs.” “I Ain’t the One”
morphed from an acoustic number into a dark pop
number with a haunting synth lead thanks to collaboration
between Fischel and vocalist/guitarist Britt
Daniel. Elsewhere, Fischel wrote the entirety of the
music for the bouncing, groove leaden “First Caress.”
Spoon joined forces with producer Dave Fridmann
(Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev, Sleater-Kinney) for a
second time to Hot Thoughts to life. Fridmann has
been not only an excellent producer and engineer for
the band, Eno identifies him as a valued collaborator.
Eno vividly recalls Fridmann’s input on the track
“WhisperI’lllistentohearit” as a prime example of the
producer’s innovative and at times peculiar recording
techniques. “That song [has] two major sections and
we knew we needed some sound to bridge section
one and section two” Eno explains “So Dave told us
to go out and grab any pedal that we thought would
be exciting and to make sure that we got ten of them.
We brought in ten and Dave hooked them all up
and somehow came up with that crazy sound that
bridges the two sections together.”
Eno has described Spoon’s music as psychedelic
on a number occasions, a term that Eno
is inclined to use in a very broad sense when
it comes to the band’s body of work. Studio
effects, reverb, guitar effects, and experimental
song structures all makeup Eno’s qualification
for Spoon’s off kilter sound. “ I feel when you
listen to something like The Soft Bulletin [by
the Flaming Lips] you hear so many different
sounds and otherworldly sonic events. That’s
sort of what I’m talking about as a listener when
you’re listening to a 3 minute song you want
things to keep your interest” says Eno “That’s
one thing Dave [Fridmann] is really great at in
a studio is creating certain moments that keep
you interested and keep things surprising and
Spoon’s music has been used in a variety of TV
shows and movies, most recently an instrumental
version of “The Underdog” can be heard in the superhero
blockbuster Spider-Man: Homecoming. There is
indeed a cinematic quality to the band’s music that
Eno says comes from a need for dramatic moments
within their songs. “When you’re making music for a
record you have to figure out a way to get a listener’s
attention. Often someone is listening to your stuff
with earbuds on a subway for example. It’s obviously
different from playing a live show where you have
the energy of the crowd and the four walls of the
venue” says Eno. Eno name drops “Can I Sit Next You”
as a specific example of the band’s desire to create
surprises and unexpected moments for the listener.
This standout track off of Hot Thoughts features an
instantly memorable and ethereal string solo halfway
through the song that Eno calls a real moment of
payoff for the song and for the listener.
Reflecting on the band’s 25 year long career, Eno
emphasizes that the band has learned to never take
anything for granted and to always be pushing themselves
in new and exciting directions as musicians
and songwriters. “Everything that we’ve done we’ve
worked really hard to achieve and we get fans slowly
but we keep getting more fans. That being said we
would like to have more people hear our music. We
would like to hear more of our songs on the radio,
we’re not opposed to that. We’re constantly trying
to find new ways to get new fans and get people to
hear our music because we believe in it and we only
put stuff out that we think is great. Hopefully more
people will check us out” says Eno. Eno agrees that
the band’s last two records are likely their strongest
to date and expresses excitement at what the future
holds for their tenth record.
Eno and Daniels have been the only core members
of Spoon. While Eno can’t specify what exactly has
allowed the band to last for so long he expresses
tremendous gratitude at the opportunities that
this creative partnership with Daniel has afforded
him. “For me I’m just happy to be in a band that has
amazing songs that’s putting out great records. That’s
all I can really hope for. I’m honored to play on Britt’s
songs. They’re exciting to me. I think a band works
when it has great songs. That’s what I feel this band
Spoon perform at MacEwan Hall on August 31.
BEATROUTE • AUGUST 2017 | 17
“because band names don’t matter”
AJJ will be releasing a new EP in the near future.
JULIUS SUMNER MILLER
Calgary’s professional party punks
Like a walking Pabst can, carrying balloons and
giving out high-fives, Julius Sumner Miller is
Calgary’s dream team party machine that’s
been charming audiences across the city since
2013. Now set to release their second album Rock
Around the Radius, the boisterous band founded
by jokes, friendship, and the pursuit of the party
has spent the past two years maturing their sound
without maturing themselves.
“If you don’t like fun, you won’t like us. Simple as
that,” states drummer John Byskal.
From onstage, to the studio, and even Monday
night jam sessions, the easy-going and amiable
members remain unflinchingly positive. Aiming to
make the most of every moment, the group displays
an undying juvenile naivety and passion that’s easy to
fall in love with.
Separating themselves from other acts in town,
the boys go on to every stage with only one goal:
“There’s a lot of bands that are good, but are
boring to see live. We don’t want to be that. We want
to be the opposite of that,” says newest addition and
guitarist, Monty Montebon.
“And it’s not fake either,” adds powerhouse vocalist
and local music staple, Darren Ollinger.
“It’s easy for us to get caught in the romance of the
party we’re offering.”
With honest and ridiculous onstage chemistry, the
“We put out every record hoping to lose a couple fans.”
So begins vocalist and acoustic guitarist Sean Bonnette
of AJJ, formerly known as the Andrew Jackson
Jihad. You’ll read more on that later.
Coinciding with their fan alienation scheme, AJJ’s latest album The
Bible 2, adds multiple new elements to their music, including pianos and
synthesizers on several tracks. At the core of their sound is folk punk that
has morphed substantially across six records.
“With everything we record and with every release we do, I think one
thing we strive for is to not sound like we did on the previous record,”
offers Bonnette, who formed the band in 2004.
“It just keeps it fun it seems like we are being truer to ourselves.”
He adds, “Hopefully that is kind of temporary for those people who
drop off, but it is better if it’s a shocking thing that people can’t understand
at first, and hopefully it grows on the listener.”
AJJ is a band with a cult following that step out from the shadows
whenever they pass through town. It’s unlikely that you’ll hear many
people talking about them; yet you’ll find that tickets to their show soldout
almost immediately. They are known for a very minimalist approach
that is mostly made up of fast-paced acoustic rhythms and frantic vocals.
While they are only playing a small handful of Canadian dates on their
upcoming tour, Calgary is thankfully one of them. Bonnette has fond
memories of the city.
He says, “the city of Calgary is awesome! It has a really interesting
downtown, super fun to walk around in. it has a big city feel and has this
really awesome western element… big trucks and cowboy hats. It’s a
really cool culture.”
Now, back to the name change that occurred last year. Despite their
Julius Sumner Miller has made being the life of the party a science.
atmosphere of any room can change to purely smiles
and laughter within seconds of a JSM show.
Since the release of their debut, the band claims
to have only gotten better and “more handsome.”
Creating a solid sound, advancing songs structures,
and adding “more crafty wordsmithing,” the growing
confidence as a collective has elevated the live antics
performed both on the stage and in the crowd
during their live shows.
“We were always pretty awesome on stage,” boasts
Ollinger, “But now there’s more confidence. It’s tighter
and it flows better.”
After adding new fuel to the fire with a new
guitarist, and becoming more structured and
committed, the band decided it was time to
release their second album. Claiming it to be
“one of the best albums ever,” the forever young
punks of JSM have every right to brag. With a
by Chase Key
history as a social justice oriented band, the quartet realized its usage was
problematic and wasn’t worth fighting for.
“If I felt strongly about the name I would defend it, but I don’t
care about it anymore. I use to argue my way to feel I was convinced
I was in the right and I can’t do that anymore so I am not going to,”
“When we first started and named the band, we didn’t think we
would be a band for very long. We thought it was going to be a three
month kind of thing… but then it turns out we have good chemistry
and enjoyed playing together. We never found a cause to break up
the band and start a new one with a better name.”
Currently, AJJ is on tour for the decade anniversary of their album
People Who Can Eat People Are the Luckiest People in the World.
Certainly, it says something that their fan base still rabidly appreciates
the album 10 years after its release.
“It’s pretty great I think,” Bonnette offers.
“I am reconnecting to a lot of the songs that we haven’t been
playing as much for the past 10 years... I have to say relearning those
songs is super fun because I haven’t played guitar like that in a very
long time. The songs are way faster than anything I have written in
quite a while. That’s been really awesome and confidence boosting.
I am old now, but I can still play it and sing it better because I don’t
smoke cigarettes anymore.”
As to what the future holds for AJJ, “our next little thing will be a total
180 from The Bible 2, it will probably be out in early August, a little five
song EP that will be put out under the name ‘The AJJ’ because band
names don’t matter.”
He continues, “The sound is mostly softer, there is one song that
kind of rocks, it is a slow rocker, and then there are two acoustic
songs that are sad, and a jingle I wrote for a 3D organ printing shop
that I drew a cartoon of. After that I feel the band is about to enter
a pretty productive period… It is time to start on a new thing.”
photo: Richard MacFarlane
AJJ will be playing at the Biltmore Ballroom on August 31 (Vancouver),
and will also be playing two shows, including one all-ages performance, at
The Palomino on September 2 (Calgary).
by Jackie Klapak
fuller sound and style, the newest addition of
songs presents a true sound replicating the image
of their onstage carefree aire. Still keeping some
classically punk timed songs, which play under
a minute, the album entirely complements the
skills of every individual. While creating songs
dedicated to inside jokes, last Saturday’s crazy
night, or something that literally just happened
that needs to be immortalized, every member
puts in a piece of comical creativity between
beers to build a zany repertoire of fast paced, funpunk
tracks. Every miniature guitar solo, burst of
double-kicks and blissful gang vocal chant builds
a carnival of songs, all exciting and inviting listeners
for another go around.
On track to release a new album yearly, the goal is
to create something much like an auditory memory
book; one where you can listen back and laugh at the
drunken mistakes of the past year while continuing
to create new ones.
Exclaims Byskal, “We’re just going to: tell funny
jokes, be best friends, drink a lot, play cool shows, and
make everyone think that’s the best band they’ve
Julius Sumner Miller releases Rock Around The Radius
on August 12 at Vern’s Pub (Calgary) for the second
annual Weekend at Vernie’s event also featuring All
Hands On Jane, Klusterfunk (YEG), and Hedks (YVR).
18 | AUGUST 2017 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE
THE ASHLEY HUNDRED
swept away by a lonely love
The Ashley Hundred release their long-anticipated debut in September.
Somewhere between folk, rock and pop lies The
Ashley Hundred. A mingling of rock guitar and
psychedelic keyboard rhythms, laced with the
subtle twang of banjo and driven home by powerful
front-and-centre drums, their music is inherently
danceable and surprisingly philosophical. The combination
fits a festival stage as well as it does a rainy
drive through a windswept mountain pass.
The Ashley Hundred is about to release their first
full-length album, Lonely Love, the product of 18
months of hard work. It was recorded throughout
fall and winter 2016 at OCL Studios in Calgary, and
is the first album the group has recorded, mixed and
mastered entirely in a professional setting.
“We were all kind of trying to be on our A game.
Don’t get me wrong… it’s a great experience, but we
went there to work,” says vocalist and guitar / keyboard
player Andrew Franks.
“I feel like that’s kind of what the experience was like,
we had this time in this state of the art studio and we
made the most of it while still having a good time.”
What came out at the end of the day is a mix of
sounds and emotions that in their own way capture
the journey The Ashley Hundred has been a part of
over the past few years.
Guitarist Carson Stewart says, “I think this record is
basically a snapshot of that progression.”
Their open-ended writing process really shows
through in the variety of tracks on the album. Genre
is not ignored so much as it is assimilated. It’s hard
to place their music into a box when lap-steel guitar
mixes with dance beats in the same moment.
“Really everyone on this record has a little piece of
it they can call their own, which is really cool to be
able to say,” says Brett Cassidy, who plays banjo and
by Jodi Brak
“Some of it is very introspective, a couple of songs
are just more playful. That’s who we are as people…
Emotion is a huge spectrum and I think we try and
capture as much of the human experience as we can.”
Franks adds, “There is no one specific way that we
write songs. Somebody will come with pretty much
an entire song written and everybody just adds their
flavor onto it.”
Lonely Love was, in many ways, made possible by
The Ashley Hundred’s participation in the Prophets
of Music Emerging Artist Scholarship Program. Over
the past year they have worked closely with mentors
in the Canadian music scene to grow as songwriters,
and to better understand what it takes to pursue
music as a career.
As Stewart says, “Man, they just blew our expectations
out of the water for the amount of help that they
gave us. We couldn’t have done half of what we did this
last year without their help.”
Key to their efforts was the recording time provided
by OCL Studios, where they worked with Josh Gwilliam,
the wizard behind the OCL soundboard.
“I think one of the biggest things for us is we were
working with both Josh Gwilliam and Chris Sandvoss
on really crafting our songs and our dynamics,” says
“We were looking at our songs completely differently
after this process. We’re already writing new stuff
after this and we have these things in our head right
from the beginning which is a really cool thing.”
The Lonely Love record release party is at Dickens with
Fox Who Slept the Day Away and The Archaics on
September 1 (Calgary).
Audrey Niksic, a.k.a. Slut Prophet, has had
a busy year. In addition to playing her
first Sled Island alongside a slew of other
shows, she is releasing her first split EP. This all
comes before she’s old enough to vote.
The June release was co-created with New Jersey
rapper Blunt Prophet. Prophecies is one half bedroom
hip-hop, one half lo-fi feminist punk.
“My boyfriend is super into hip-hop and rap,
mostly Soundcloud rappers and that kind of thing,”
“We were just talking about random stuff, and
he remembered reading about Blunt Prophet in a
blog, and I just thought it would be so funny if we
made a split together, just joking around because
the names worked so well together. So just I shot
him a Facebook message.”
The rest, as they say, is history.
“It was funny, I did not expect him to answer,
but that’s really how it came about. He was so on
board with it, and I’m really happy it happened.”
Taking up the “Slut” side of the cassette, you’ll
find a quartet of tunes including a lament of
haircuts gone awry (“Accidental Terf Bangs”), a
Karen O cover (“Rapt”), and a track on everyone’s
favorite movie trope, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl
“I really didn’t know anything about [Woody
Allen],” says Niksic in reference to the track. “I’d
only watched Annie Hall (1977) recently, right
before I wrote the song, and I was like, what the
fuck is this?”
She continues, “I think the theme of the song
came after, but I wanted to write a song that was
contrasting ‘this is how you want me to be’ and
‘this is what I am,’ so the idea of ‘Manic Pixie Dream
Girl’ came after.”
And it’s this unapologetically-feminist perspective
that has become a Slut Prophet trademark.
“I don’t know when I got so angry, but I
think it was mostly just experiences that I
think every female-identifying person has on
Slut Prophet is one half bedroom hip-hop, one half lo-fi feminist punk.
by Morgan Cairns
a daily basis,” says Niksic. “I also worked at a
bar at a very young age. I was 15 and it just
kinda freaked me out the amount the waitresses
got hit on, me getting hit on so young.
I just got angry.”
And soon after, she turned to music as an outlet.
“It’s everything I want to do and say, but I’m too
shy to say in real life situations because men are
scary. It’s a way to express the anger.”
Forming Slut Prophet at the age of 16, Niksic is
all too familiar with trials of being a minor in the
“It’s hard sometimes. I get very frustrated just
being so young,” she says. But a recent change in
AGLC laws that allows underage musicians to play
in licensed bars, has proven to be a bright spot.
“I’m really thankful that the new law came
in place that minors are allowed to play bars,”
“The all-ages scene is really good here, but it’s
also more of a tight knit group so you’re always
playing to the same people. So the bars are nice to
get a new experience with that. It’s a little unfortunate
I have to leave right after my set… But I’m just
doing what I have to do until I’m 18.”
And lucky for us, Audrey officially turns 18 in
August, and she plans on celebrating her birthday
“I’ll be going to Local 510 the night before for the
BeatRoute issue release party!” she says, laughing.
Playing alongside Calgary’s Aiwass and Edmonton’s
Preston, it will be a birthday for the ages.
“It’s honestly the best way. I was hoping that
there would be a cool show happening, and if there
wasn’t I was just going to make my own show, and
then this happened. It’s perfect.”
Catch Slut Prophet alongside Aiwass and Preston
at Local 510 on August 10 (Calgary) for BeatRoute’s
August Issue Release Party! Her split album with
Blunt Prophet is available on Bandcamp and in
photo: Willow Grier
BEATROUTE • AUGUST 2017 | 19
jarring rockers are dripping with metaphor
welcome to flavour country
photo: Mike Tan
Since their inception in 2013, DRI HIEV has been consistently
releasing music that is emotionally disarming. It’s
ugly, jarring, and unusual: a mixture of early industrial and
post-punk, channeling the weirdness of Kraut rock. Across their
four recordings, the band has cemented their status in Alberta’s
burgeoning noise scene, rubbing elbows with Melted Mirror,
Rhythm of Cruelty and PMMA while blasting eardrums and
“You’ve seem to have accurately described our sound for us!
We’ve never been 100 per cent sure which genres we fit with,”
begins vocalist Carter Crough, who formed the band in 2013 in
Grande Prairie. Guitarist and programmer Dan Auger, and bassist
Born out of the icy boredom of a typically “brutal” Saskatchewan
winter, Saskatoon’s Shooting Guns had no illusions
of doing anything but keeping themselves amused
(and warm) when they first started their heavy, psychedelic
instrumental rock group.
“It was still four original members, myself, Chris Laramie (Switching
Yard), Keith Doepker and Jay Loos and that was what got us
through that first winter in 2009,” recalls percussionist Jim Ginther.
“The following spring Steve Reed joined us on synth and that was
the line-up for our next four releases: our debut album, Born to Deal
Magic (1952-1976), two split 7-inches in 2012 and 2013, and our
sophomore LP, Brotherhood of the Ram, later that same year.”
Spurred into action by an invitation to record the score for the
2014 Canadian cult-horror-comedy film WolfCop, Shooting Guns
quickly outfitted their aptly named Pre-Rock Record Label and
Studios in order to complete the project within a narrow six-month
timeframe. They succeeded, discovering a great deal about their own
resourcefulness in the process.
“In early 2014 Steve had moved away and we were approached
with the prospect of doing the WolfCop soundtrack, so we brought
Toby Bond on board cuz he’s a synth-wizard and classical trained
piano and viola player. He actually used to play in the Saskatoon
Symphony; it really gave us a whole new set of tools to work with.
Being an instrumental band there are only so many avenues you have
and top-40 radio isn’t really one of them. The idea of soundtrack
work had always appealed to us. This was a gift-wrapped opportunity,
so we used that panicked enthusiasm to get it done in time.”
Invited to repeat this feat for the sequel to WolfCop creatively
dubbed Another WolfCop (which premiered at Fantasia Film Festival
in Montreal just last month), amidst an active touring schedule,
Shooting Guns has expanded their artistic horizons while earning
accolades and fans along the road to Hollyweird. Most recently, the
Polaris-nominated band has turned their headlights back toward
by Sarah Kitteringham
Kyle Crough join him. The trio relocated to Calgary shortly after
their formation, striving for the fellowship of a stronger scene.
“When we moved, it took us a while to find the scene. Dan
and I are fairly anxious people so it was difficult to approach
other artists. Luckily, Kyle is much more socially confident and
dived straight into the scene, introducing us to groups we were
initially intimidated by. Now we know there’s a home here for
us. We couldn’t be more grateful to the freaky people that
support DRI HIEV.”
The band has cultivated a unique following based on their
sound. On the musically and metaphorically loaded DRIP,
they’ve played up their Big Black worship to extreme effect.
Indeed, the title could be interpreted many ways. It seems this
release was recorded in a dripping basement, the ugly snare
sound reminiscent of the monstrous one found on Songs about
Fucking (1987). The song titles are also allegorically related to
being a “drip”— as in, a weak and ineffectual person.
“DRIP, at first, was an inside joke about us. Referring to our
slow writing process and short releases,” admits Crough.
“But once again, you’re observations are correct, drip also is
implying to being a weakling. Most of the lyrics are ambiguously
(and selfishly) written about myself. Referencing themes of
pulpy science fiction and true crime to my personal experiences.
It’s always been an outlet for frustration. I usually feel way
better about myself after writing a silly song, poking fun and
shedding light on my emotions.”
See DRI HIEV on tour across Canada. The band plays Heck Haus
on July 27 (Lethbridge), Handsome Daughter on July 29 (Winnipeg),
Vangelis Tavern on August 10 (Saskatoon), Captain’s Cabin on August
11 (Medicine Hat), and the Brixx on August 12 (Edmonton).
by Christine Leonard
home, focusing on the launch of their new album, Flavour Country.
Mastered by longtime friend and trusted producer John McBain
(ex-Monster Magnet), the vorpal tones invoked on Flavour Country
conjure a post-prog prairie dust storm that will have you running.
Not for the root cellar, but for your black leather jacket.
“We have Pre-Rock Studios set up in such a way that we just
record the whole time whenever we jam. Having everybody playing
together captures a bit of that live energy,” reflects Ginther.
“I think a good take goes farther than the best sounding remix.
Flavour Country starts hard and heavy and then releases into a relaxation
at the end, whereas the side-b is these two gritty eight-minute,
one-off jams (the title track and “Black Leather Jacket”) and takes you
on a psych-metal journey. You’re shifting gears on one side and going
on a sojourn on the other side. It’s just one of the things that makes
this album unique.”
Shooting Guns release Flavour Country on August 11 via RidingEasy
Records. You can pre-order or buy the album at http://www.ridingeasyrecs.com.
little lamb, big plan
by Taylor Odishaw-Dyck
photo: Carly Haynes
I was a teenager, I dove into the ‘90s rock sound, and
fell in love with it.”
So begins Tad Hynes of Little Lamb. He’s sitting on the back
patio, sipping summer beverages while we chat.
“As I started playing with Mammoth Grove, I got into more psychedelic
bands, and I always loved classic rock… But I wanted to take a step back from
being so heavy all the time, and just let there be more space.”
This summer, Tad went out on a limb, and started his own project, producing
an entire album out of his home studio on Logic 10. As the bassist and
back up vocalist for psychedelic grunge-rockers Mammoth Grove, he knew
he was capable of fronting a band, so he put his best foot forward. The result
is an immaculate 11-track album with strong Alice in Chains undertones.
Hynes was previously the frontman of hard rock band Dumbstruckt, but
in his time playing with Mammoth Grove, he recalls learning, “to listen to
what the other members are doing, not so much focus on yourself, but to
listen to it all.”
It appears Hynes has implemented his observations in his new project,
Little Lamb’s debut Cool Moon maintains a certain instrumental coherence,
while winding through a variety of unique styles.
There are many notable tracks on Little Lamb’s full-length, but an obvious
standout is the title track. The song starts with an extended fade in on a
simple, open-tuning acoustic guitar riff, and drops smoothly at the 45-second
mark into a full shoegaze sound. It’s accentuated by a fresh live drum kit, a
mind-melting lead guitar slide, and a sultry bass line.
The song was inspired by his outstanding experience at the rural Alberta
music festival North Country Fair, which will celebrate its 40th anniversary
next June. While enjoying the annual festival, Hyness recalls “just hanging by
the river, with my sisters and my bros.”
Music is just one form of self-expression that Hynes has delved into; he
also started his own embroidery company called Little Lamb Needle Work a
few years ago. He describes using this art-form to “get creative, make my own
style, and sell my stuff.” This summer, his needle-and-thread skills came in
handy, as he created his own cover art, via the mode of embroidery. When
asked about why he does this increasingly unusual artform, he responds,
“because I love it.”
The very physical, DIY nature of this art form reflects in the music of the
earthy project, pulling listeners passionately in to explore new sonic worlds.
Catch Little Lamb’s album release party alongside Slim Hawley and The Varmoors
at the Nite Owl on August 19 (Calgary).
20 | AUGUST 2017 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE
some more things to put in your daytimers
building community through folk
by Chase Key
Dent May plays Calgary on August 29 at The Palomino.
Oakville, Ontario’s prog titans Saga regretfully announced their retirement
after 40 years of making prog-rock music in Canada and touring the globe.
With 22 albums to their name since the group’s inception in 1977, they are
no slacker in the Canadian music scene. Fans have one final chance to catch
the trippy, laser-and-light filled experience of their live show before the group
hangs up their instruments and moves on to new things. Saga will playing the
Grey Eagle Event Centre in Calgary on August 12.
Ever wondered what it would sound like if somebody started a punk rock
band with a 12-string acoustic guitar and an electric violin? Wonder no more!
Vancouver’s AK-747s will fill that void in your life with their raw, live-off-thefloor
energy. Their sound isn’t what you’d expect, and it is definitely worth a
listen for fans of more stripped-down punk. AK-747s perform at the Nite Owl
in Calgary on August 26.
Looking for some Animal Collective backed, weird art-pop infused rock
music to round out your weekend? Let Dent May fill that void. Originally
from Mississippi but now operating out of Los Angeles, Dent May’s music lays
in that middle ground between socially relevant rock music and purely fun
pop. For every synth rhythm, there is an easily distinguishable guitar line in
the background, giving the music a sort of duality. Dent May will playing at
The Palomino on August 29, just 11 days after his newest album Across the
Multiverse drops via Carpark Records.
Against Me! Is a punk band that has undergone a myriad of changes over the
years, gaining the spotlight with a string of hits and remaining there as lead
vocalist Laura Jane Grace underwent a gender transition in the early 2000’s.
The group has continued to pump out emotionally honest punk tunes,
focusing recently on issues of transphobia and the struggles of the transgender
community. Against Me! will be playing the Marquee stage in Calgary on
• Jodi Brak
Blake Unruly is touring his folk tunes east of the rockies.
sense, I’m just a dude making music, as we are all global citizens now
but I have a passion for being Canadian that I didn’t foster myself,” begins
Blake Unruh, who goes by the stage name Blake Unruly.
“Road tripping across the country was part of my childhood… I am just grateful
for what it is and what it gives to me. It is better as people to focus on small areas like
the cities we live in. I don’t always think about it but Canada is rad.”
Blake’s sound changes depending on the season, or the musicians backing him
up, but an acoustic guitar and soulful folk singing are his staples. He writes strippeddown
folk music that is centred on clean, rhythmic guitar playing and witty lyricism
that is both inspired and cynical in its own way.
“Sometimes it is difficult when someone’s energy doesn’t fit with the song, it is not
always about skill with an instrument, it is about getting the feel or vibe of a song.
Sometimes great things come out of it or sometimes the energy just isn’t there…
Right now I am mostly solo, I have a kit drum and pedals… my feet and limbs become
the obstacles. But all I want is just for something true to happen… I just want it
to be genuine.”
He describes himself as a community minded musician, saying, “I have lived
in several different places… I have learned how to get into scenes. Some groups
become too into their own scenes, but I enjoy playing for new people. I have
started open mic nights near my home and just enjoy getting to know my local
community. I also studied music therapy and want people to feel when they
leave that they had a good connection not only with me but others there as
well. People are all looking for community. We are all so close to other people
but we don’t know our neighbors.”
As far as what he hopes the future holds, Blake says “the dream is being a music
therapist and touring with a band across Canada, maybe other places… Just end up
doing positive things with music… But honestly I am living the dream right now.”
Blake Unruly will be playing at Nite Owl on August 11 (Calgary) and a second “secret”
show on August 12 (Calgary).
22 | AUGUST 2017 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE
keeping rock ‘n’ roll sweet and simple
When we are younger, we tend to be
much more impressionable - there are
certain things we come across that
can set us on a particular path. For Tony Esposito,
lead singer of White Reaper, it was as simple as
watching music videos from the likes of Judas
Priest and Accept; two influences very prevalent
in the band’s guitar-heavy sound. The young
Louisville, KY, native would eventually take some
of that inspiration and charisma to create “The
World’s Best American Band,” or so White Reaper
have deemed themselves with their latest release
of the same name.
It was around the age of 13 that Esposito, the
lead vocalist and guitarist of the group, would
rally the troops to start playing together. Esposito
recalls playing at Skull Alley, an-all ages venue in
his hometown that allowed his band to perform.
The band consisted of Esposito, Ryan Hater (guitar),
and Sam (bass) and Nick (drums) Wilkerson,
and honed their skills at the Alley. Through high
school, the guys would grind through the local
scene, hitting the road nationally only once they
could ditch the books.
White Reaper’s sound has certainly evolved
over the years, but it’s always been loud. The
quartet seem to fit in a variety of genres within
the indie rock world, they bring elements of classic
’60s garage rock and the rock revival of the late
’90s to early ’00s. The product is a library of lo-fi,
melodic, poppy rock ‘n’ roll songs. That being
said, their new album, The World’s Best American
Band, released in April via Polyvinyl, incorporates
a healthy dose of arena rock which is felt through
the heavy, driving guitar riffs.
Obviously the new project’s title is supposed
to be taken in jest, the band has displayed their
sense of humor with earlier releases as well, like
2015’s, White Reaper Does It Again. The band is
obviously confident, and maybe that’s because
they are obsessive. After their four month North
American tour, Esposito bluntly proclaims that
he and his band mates are “just going to keep
making records and putting them out,” without
pause. A method defined by their choice to book
studio time without having any material to work
with for their newest project; Esposito calls it,
“Let’s just make a record.” A bold strategy, but
one that has led to a very good album this time
The future for White Reaper is bright, and
it’s certainly nice to see a band penetrating the
ever-expanding indie rock scene with a more
traditional power pop sound. Esposito even admits
that modern rock ‘n’ roll seems to be a little bit
softer than it used to be, but denies any credibility
to anyone’s opinion on such a massive and diverse
category of music. Things are much less complicated
with White Reaper; they’ll either be on the road
or in the studio; always making a racket.
White Reaper perform on August 30 at the Winspear
Centre (Edmonton) and August 31 at MacEwan Hall
White Reaper pronounces itself The World’s Best American Band on latest release.
by Max Asper
photo: Jesse De Florio
BEATROUTE • AUGUST 2017 | 23
BOOK OF BRIDGE
Lethbridge’s first femme and gender-non-conforming music and arts festival
I started in the punk scene there was a lot of
uneasiness when I would go out,” says Brittany
Griffiths, bassist for Lethbridge’s flagship punk
garage band Fist City (who are currently on hold).
“I would get anxiety cause I would think, ‘Okay, I’m the only black
woman here at this punk show full of white dudes... are some of
these guys sexist, are some of these guys racist, am I welcome here, is
somebody going to say something?’
“There was this moment of realization when I was in my early
20’s that I realized that no matter what I do, people are going to
have certain assumptions based on the way that I look.”
Griffiths, who has taken a step back from her music to focus
on school, is part of the group of people organizing FLIP Fest,
Lethbridge’s first femme and gender-non conforming music and
arts festival, which will take place August 18-20 across multiple
venues in the city. Their aim is to make attendees feel welcome,
safe, and celebrated.
“As members of both the Lethbridge and larger Canadian
music communities, we have seen and experienced the various
struggles and injustices women and gender-non-conforming
artists face while trying to participate in local music,” says FLIP
Fest on their Facebook page.
“The acronym FLIP, standing for Femmes Love Intersectional
Politics, broadly represents our goal of creating an encouraging,
inclusive, and safer music community in Lethbridge and beyond.
The festival itself aims to celebrate the amazing and diverse talent of
female and gender-non-conforming artists, while also educating the
larger community on anti-oppression and safer spaces within music.”
FLIP Fest will showcase a variety of local and out-of-town talent at
multiple venues, including the Owl, The Slice, Blueprint, and more.
The bands range from the angry feminist punk rock of the Shiverettes
and Slut Prophet; to the ethereal experimental soundscapes of
TERRIFIC KIDS ARTIST COLLECTIVE
a space for the ‘weird’ artists
Cassettes, shows, safe spaces, and friends.
just don’t want to put out anything normal,
because everything normal has a platform
So begins Cory Fischer, initial co-founder of Terrific
Kids Artist Collective, when speaking of the cassette
tapes they’ve released. They include such titles as l.n.
baba’s experimental offering no man is an internet
Foonyap, respectfulchild and Feverfew; to the country folk magic of
Shaela Miller and the Mary-Lee Bird Band; to the dreamy alternative
pop of Brenna Lowrie and Maggy France.
The festival also offers an Anti-Oppression Workshop facilitated
by CKXU 88.3 FM’s Social Justice Advocacy Committee, a roundtable
discussion on Women of Colour in Music facilitated by Manuela
Zarzuela, Saturday brunch hosted by the University of Lethbridge
Caribbean Association, yoga from Pop Up Yoga Lethbridge and a
Handmade Market at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery.
“If you’re in a space and all men are performers and women
are in the audience, it just creates an imbalance. It’s much more
inspiring for women to see other women perform, ‘Yeah actually,
anybody can do this.’ It doesn’t matter what your gender is, your
skin colour, your sexual orientation,” says Griffiths of the inspiration
behind the event.
“I’m much more inclined to go to a show if it showcases female,
queer or people of colour,” she says. “And not to say that there’s not
talented bands comprised of white dudes, I don’t hate white dudes,
that’s not the point, it’s just the representation. And it’s just the
imbalance of representation that I’m really quite fed up with.”
The festival, which is entirely coordinated by volunteers, is by
donation, with a suggested donation of five to 10 dollars for each
show, in hopes that financial resources will be less of a barrier to
“Festivals like Femme Wave in Calgary and Not Enough Fest in
Edmonton, Black Brown and Fierce, these festivals that focus on the
talent of queer, women and people of colour [are important]. We
need more of this to happen so this can be more of the mainstream.”
FLIP Fest runs from August 18-20 in Lethbridge. Find a full list of
artists and events on Facebook (/flipmusicfest) and Instagram
and WINT’s jagged rock album Memory/Paranoia,
“Some of the bands that we’re all interested in, as a
community, don’t necessarily have a home as much
as they might have… a basement. And the same for a
label, they might not have a home on another label,
so releasing it here is to bring all that weird together
The Shiverettes play Flip Fest on August 18.
Formed in 2011 by Cory Fischer and Chris Kessler,
the Terrific Kids Artist Collective has taken an active
role in the Lethbridge music and arts community in
the past year and half as the collective attained more
members. Collectively, they chose to pursue the collective
as a more serious venture in regards to events,
show promotion, and tape releases.
Now seven members strong, with an orbiting
population of what they like to call ‘Terrific Kids’ who
contribute to the organization in valuable ways, the
collective consists of Cory Fischer, Mechaela Marr,
Arnaud Sparks, Jackson Tiefenbach, Curtis Windover,
Rebecca McHugh, and Brittany Ruston.
“We get to be a unified landmark for Lethbridge,
and I think that’s the most important
part. I think the tapes are a physical manifestation
of our unified Lethbridge that we’re trying to
form,” says Fischer.
“What we do is a section of what is happening in
Lethbridge,” says TK member Jackson Tiefenbach.
“And I think it’s well defined, and I think it’s
important, and it’s a scene that exists as a component
of the larger Lethbridge arts community... it’s the arty
“We operate entirely as a little collective, we make
all of our decisions together, and it’s not this solo
adventure anymore of everyone doing their own
thing,” says Fischer.
“We meet every Tuesday, which we call ‘Terrific
Tuesday’, and we get together, we have fun, and it gets
by Courtney Faulkner
by Courtney Faulkner
serious sometimes, and we book shows for bands
coming from out of town.”
“It’s also just very DIY,” offers member Mechaela
“Like with The Farm [a local practice space and
private venue], there’s the silk screening out there, a
lot of the art for the comps are made locally, it’s a lot
more artist involvement than I think other things. It’s
a lot of do-it-yourself, figure it out as a group.”
The collective is currently working on developing
a safer spaces policy that is inclusive, anti-oppressive
and promotes a culture of care, openness, and learning.
They are looking for input from the community
to ensure that a diverse spectrum of voices are heard
and are a part of the organization’s vision moving forward
as a responsible facilitator for Lethbridge events.
“People are always welcome to come sit in, and if
they want to add something I think that’s awesome,”
says Arnaud Sparks.
“Basically anyone who’s attending show, and being
a good part of the music community, like is making
the music community better, I like to think they’re a
Terrific Kid,” says Fischer. “Like we’re all kind of these
Terrific Kids - “
“-Doing terrific things,” finishes Sparks.
Terrific Kids host the J Blissette tour kickoff with Marlena
Moore and Birch Barks August 5 at the Slice Bar
and Grill (Lethbridge). You can listen to and purchase
their cassettes online at terrifickids.bandcamp.com.
24 | AUGUST 2017 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE
CIRCLE THE WAGONS
BassBus founder pulls out all the stops for a12 hour marathon of fun
Year four of one of Calgary’s most unique
events is fast approaching and once again
it has evolved and built upon its previous
years to become something even more grand and
Circle the Wagons and BassBus founder Baran
Faber spoke with BeatRoute in a rare free window of
time amidst an extraordinary hectic schedule. Faber
recently returned from Bass Coast Festival where the
BassBus team is responsible for building the Pirate
Radio stage. No easy feat, especially when you’ve got
CTW right around the corner.
“It’s absolutely insane. I don’t think I could put it
into words what I go through,” says Faber, who says
he’s been working 18 hour days since he’s been back
in Calgary. He said at Bass Coast this year he had to
develop and structure a strong leadership team to
step up and make sure the crew was meeting deadlines
and having the vision that he normally has to
ensure that the job was done, while he was working
from a mobile office on the bus itself, getting the
pieces together for CTW.
“I had to really kind of learn how to delegate and
just make sure that I cover all bases while all of this
stuff was going on. That being said there’s no easy
way to do it, it’s just a shit-ton of hard work. I believe
in, it I love it, I love seeing it come to life and that’s
what it takes to make it happen.”
This year Faber has really pulled out all the stops to
make this event even more sensational than years past.
In addition to the beautiful new site at Currie, there
are 30 new vendors, up from seven or eight last year.
There is a 30 foot inflatable climbing wall that actually
requires belaying, as well as 90 foot inflatable obstacle
course, the largest you can get in Canada. The line up
has also been carefully curated, with electronic acts
and bands interspersed throughout, to give the diverse
crowd a taste of both worlds and a well-rounded
“Over time it develops and we see what people like
and new areas to focus on and highlight and increase,”
He says that while sometimes the workload seems
like almost too much to handle, getting to stand back
and take in his work when it’s finally complete and the
crowds are enjoying it reminds him why he does it and
“sends shivers up [his] spine.”
“That is the payment for me because it’s definitely
not monetary — it’s out of pure passion and the
love for it. And if it got to the point where I was just
working the entire festival and didn’t actually get to
experience the festival I’d come out of it and be like,
‘Okay why did I do that?’ So I always make sure I refuel
my tank by taking it all in as much as I can.”
• Paul Rodgers
HEADLINERS EXPLORE A DIVERSIFIED MUSICAL LANDSCAPE AT THREE DIFFERENT STAGES//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
OPIUO from New Zealand rides the glitch-hop wave
and characterizes his DJ sets to be full of “brokenfrog-stomping-funkadelic-hippo-hop-monkey-crunkchunky-bouncy-stomach-morphing-bassdollopingscrumptious-bowl-of-glitchy-bass-love.”
BIG TOP STAGE
HUMANS, the electronic-pop duo from Vancouver
can be described as well-rounded and fully engaged.
Not only have they developed an exciting live show by
intergrating their audience into their sound, but fans
love their music just chilling at home and “having sex.”
TOO MANY ZOOZ, New
York City’s ‘brass house’ trio
and subway busking warriors,
rose to fame after a video of
them playing at Union Square
went viral and racked up over
four million views. Energized
by a baritone sax, a sizzling
trumpet and the “King of
Sludge” on drums, this urban
tribal mix of jazz, funk, groove
and avant-garde stomp is the
new-fangled, untamed shake,
shake, shake yr booty.
THE BOOM BOOMs, straight
outta Vancouver’s East Side, are
adored by fans who love their
beach party vibe, soul, surf, R&B
and funk. They live for the road,
busking and touring through
Europe, the States and down to
South America where they are
embraced and endorsed by Brazil.
Fun-lovin’ troubadours that
wax the Al Green silky smooth
and get down tight stealing
Prince back from Bruno Mars.
Ladies love them, and men want
to be like them.
BASSBUS BAZAAR STAGE
THE BINGO DOME
DJs GOLDCAP and SABO will play
a four hour back to back set. Of Armenian
blood based in LA, Goldcap
mixes tradition with modern beats.
Inspired by the mystical sounds of his
native country he peppers his music
with organic instrument samples that
cannot be replicated by software,
“They’re slightly imperfect, and that
makes them human.” While Sabo,
also an au natural enthusiast heavily
influenced by world cultures, channels
his live sets with “mixtures of a
meditative desert oasis and tropical
poly-rhythms featuring lush, tribal
vocal samples and smooth, organic
26 | AUGUST 2017 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE
TOO MANY ZOOZ
maintaining that subway stylin’ New York City groove
by Paul Rodgers
rock ‘n’ roll to take some of the stress off
by Jamie McNamara
Outta the subway and off to Barcelona, but it’s still “guerrilla warfare”.
Perhaps Too Many Zooz is a name that you’re
familiar with, fond of and might recognize, but
haven’t quite connected their name to a sound.
In 2014, a video recorded of the energetic three-piece
playing one of their countless performances in the
New York City subway went viral, drawing millions
of views. Since then the group has demonstrated
than they are substantially more worthwhile than a
one-viral-video pony by releasing several EPs, a fulllength
album and have taken their music from the
cavernous depths of the subway to audiences around
“It’s a pretty unforgiving place to perform music,”
says Matt Doe of the subway system in NYC as a venue.
“I think some of the really definite characteristics
are just the heat and the natural reverb that’s created
down there. It’s just a really sweaty, cavernous place
that all of these different kinds of people walk through.”
Too Many Zooz consists of Doe on trumpet, David
“King of Sludge” King their roaming percussionist,
and Leo Pellegrino, perhaps best known as the front
man of the band for the energetic dance moves he
manages to pull off while playing the monstrous
baritone sax. Although, the word “playing” doesn’t
justly describe what he does with that instrument.
Pellegrino makes noises that can only be described as
animalistic — a running theme in the band’s songs.
The group as a whole creates a huge collective
sound, oftentimes belying that there is only three of
them. They draw influence from jazz, afrobeat, rock
and EDM and have dubbed their genre as “brass
house.” Their first full-length LP entitled Subway Gawds
both encapsulates the minimalist nature of the group
as a three-piece, but also demonstrates what the trio is
capable of when collaborating with others.
“There was really no plan or grand master scheme
to create what we created it just happened spontaneously.
And as we grew together, I think our collective
goals grew with that,” says Doe, speaking from
Manchester, England after the band was stranded for
10 hours in Barcelona due to an airline workers’ strike
that resulted in having to cancel a gig for the second
As a kid Doe dreamed of touring the world as a
musician, and now that his dream has been actualized
both his and the band’s goals have grown and
matured. Despite their rigorous schedule and the
allure of partying and indulging while on the road,
Doe feels the group remains focused and have been
working on a new material in “guerrilla warfare” style
whenever they get a chance.
“I think at this point for us we feel at home when
we’re on the road now. For me, getting to my hotel
room and working on a track for three, four hours
after the gig, that’s way more satisfying to me than
getting home and watching a movie or playing a
video game or something.”
Although the band has found their touring groove,
and love being able to connect to crowds in different
ways than they were used to in NYC, they miss the
simplicity of performing in the subway to the thousands
of wildly diverse and unique characters who
commute every day.
“There’s a simplistic nature to the subway that we
all appreciated, but as things change we like to try
and keep ourselves, and the way that we operate, the
same or at least in the sense that everything’s grounded,”
he explains. “Even though we’re trying new things
and doing different musical collaborations and stuff
like that, I think a lot of it for us is just maintaining
what we did and keeping that original kind of spirit
See Too Many Zooz perform at Circle the Wagons
on September 9.
can be a very
strange thing to try
and understand. There are the
easy collaborations where two
artists seem to be speaking the
same language from the get-go,
but often, the more interesting
collaborations are the artists
who seem to be speaking two
different languages and still
manage to be completely in
For Faith Healer’s Jessica
Jalbert and the band’s newest
official member, producer Renny
Wilson, their collaboration
style is the latter of the two. On
the phone from Edmonton,
Jalbert describes the process
of working with Wilson on Try
; - ), the follow-up album to
her critically acclaimed debut,
2015’s Cosmic Troubles.
“Well, we’re talking about
the same exact thing, but were
using different words,” says
Jalbert as she describes one of
the record’s quirkier moments,
the end of album-highlight
“Such a Gemini.” Jalbert and
Wilson engage in a nonsensical
discussion, mishearing each
other say “waiting” and “rating,”
both acting as if they are in
“The thing I gather from that is something that
happens all the time between Renny and I, where
we’re talking about the exact same thing, but we
think we’re talking about something different because
we’re using different language,” explains Jalbert.
“We actually understand each other, but we’re
spending so much time on the fact that we think
don’t understand each other. It’s very funny for him
and me to work together because we’re so incredibly
different, but I think we usually get each other completely.
We just don’t realize it sometimes.”
By now, Jalbert and Wilson have a creative rapport
built up since Jalbert played in Renny Wilson Punk
Explosion before working together to record Cosmic
Troubles. The pair reconnected to record Try ; - ) in
September of 2016 when Jalbert rented a room in
Wilson’s Montreal home for a month.
The two spent nights jamming for hours and
listening to bargain bin rock records, while days were
spent in Wilson’s personal studio. It was during this
process that Jalbert and Wilson decided that it made
sense for Wilson to become a full-time member of
So, what’s changed now that Faith Healer is no
longer a solo project? According to Jalbert, not all
“The process was quite similar to [Cosmic Troubles],
but we just kind of made the decision part way
through the record that we were going to put [Try
; - )] out as Faith Healer being Renny Wilson and me.
Just, for a number of reasons, but primarily it was
easier to work on it coming from the position of both
of us being really invested in it.”
photo: Levi Manchuk
Edmonton’s Jessica Jalbert and Renny Wilson return with Try ; - )
That mutual investment was already clear on
Cosmic Troubles, but even more so on Try ; - ). The
result is an album that is a step forward from Cosmic
Troubles in just about every way imaginable, combining
Jalbert’s knack for ‘60s-indebtted psych pop with
Wilson’s sprawling-yet-intimate sonic flourishes that
make the album one of the most headphone-worthy
psychedelic pop albums in recent memory. Jalbert’s
trademark Faith Healer fuzz is still one of the best
things about these new songs, but it’s often the new
elements like crusty clavinets (“&Waiting”) or washes
of synths (“Sterling Silver”) that steal the show.
The latter track is an outlier in Faith Healer’s
catalog, leaving out guitars and opting instead
for an ethereal sound that is oddly reminiscent
of Enya. When the Enya comparison comes up in
conversation, Jalbert laughs as if she expected it
“Renny actually introduced me to “Orinoco Flow”,
which Enya had as a big hit, and that’s a fuckin’ good
song. I really like that song. That wasn’t specifically
what we were trying to reference, and actually, we
have three different recorded versions of “Sterling Silver”
before we landed on that one. So, it was kind of a
fluke that it took the Enya direction, but I like it. This
is definitely my contribution to new age,” she jokes.
“People could use it, life is so fucking stressful nowadays.
I believe in rock n’ roll to take some of the stress
off, but I also believe in that total new age bent.”
You can catch Faith Healer’s Record Release Show at
99ten in Edmonton on September 8th, or in Calgary for
Circle the Wagons Festival on September 9th
BEATROUTE • AUGUST 2017 | 31
synthy sci-fi pop duo release first EP
Le Plaisir’s debut is available now on cassette.
Although it was requested of BeatRoute to make Amelia
Aspen and Doug Organ sound cooler than they are, we didn’t
have to try very hard to fulfill the responsibility. The husband
and wife duo have been transient the past couple of years living in
Paris while curating an artists residency called Break’ Art Mix. There,
Organ spent time in the South of France, studying with the infamous
Steve Albini; the duo aims to follow-up on their European tenure by
eventually hunkering down in Los Angeles. They’re pretty cool.
Before moving to Paris, Aspen was part of the lovable Edmonton
psych-pop group the Lad Mags. Evidently, the project may truly be
finished; a fact Aspen seems at peace with. Organ also pitched in to
the scuzzy garage soul project’s success, having recorded the band (he
runs Edmontone Studio), giving Aspen and Organ the opportunity to
work together. While the official timeline might be slightly blurry, this
chanteuse conjures music in the moment
few months ago, Ella Coyes ran into a
friend at a show. The friend promptly
exclaimed, “I have a gift for you!”
“Why?” Coyes replied.
“That was the worst thing I could have said,” Coyes
thought to herself, as her friend handed over a freshly
dubbed cassette. It was the first copy of Coyes debut
album for her improvised folk alter ego, Sister Ray.
Later that evening after her own performance,
Coyes settled down at a friend’s place to listen to
her own album for the first time. Recorded at a live
show at Edmonton’s Sewing Machine Factory, every
song was improvised. So while she’d technically heard
everything within, it still took the musician aback.
“Sister Ray is 80 per cent improvised,” Coyes
“I’ll come into a show with a thing I like on guitar
or a lyric I like but that’s it. I’ll do max 20 per cent of
the writing before I go into a show.”
It’s a surprising revelation given the cohesive structure
and inherent ‘songiness’ of each track on the
eponymous, nine-song release. Coyes elaborated that
she was inspired after experiencing the power and
intensity of celebrated aboriginal throat singer Tanya
Tagaq, who performed at Interstellar Rodeo in 2015.
“I hadn’t seen her before and I just started
crying and I didn’t know why. I couldn’t stop. I
knew how amazing it was to see something that’s
was around the time Le Plaisir was born. Sharing the same name as a
1952 French dramatic comedy film, it translates to “the pleasure.”
“We had both played very different styles of music up until that
point, so it was mostly just really fun,” explains Aspen through sips of
“We found a synthesizer on the street in Paris. The same one that
Roxette uses! But we don’t sound like Roxette, to be clear,” she says,
The two easily found common ground between their varying
backgrounds and musical tastes, creating a sound not unlike the Lad
Mags, albeit with flickers of sci-fi and what Organ coins “synth and
drum machine nerdery.” Their lyrics veer towards post-apocalyptic
themes, capturing some of the harrowing experiences the city collectively
experienced two years ago.
Improvisational solo act captures raw emotion.
just happening; that wasn’t pre-meditated and was
Coyes’ confidence to perform as the improvisational
act Sister Ray belies the deep vulnerability in
her songs. As Sister Ray, the only filter that Coyes’
photo: Fish Griwkowsky
purest thoughts and feelings are put through is
the audience. This creates a reciprocal experience
between her and those at the show.
“I can’t do it without a live audience. I have
to feel the feelings of everyone in the room,
by Brittany Rudyck
“We moved to Paris right before the 2015 attacks happened, and
lived on one of the streets where people were killed on a restaurant
patio by machine gunfire,” recalls Aspen, referencing the devastating
six target attack that tragically resulted in 130 deaths, including
89 concert goers at the Bataclan theatre during an Eagles of Death
“It was a really weird time and we ended up staying basically
locked down in our tiny apartment for a few days reading the endless,
grim news on our phones and barely talking,” he recalls.
“It really felt like the world was ending and that we were totally
alone. That sounds really melodramatic in retrospect, but that was
really how it felt at the time.”
Drawing from this tragedy, Aspen and Organ began writing more
as a unit, finding both ease and discomfort from working together so
“I find co-writing a little bit difficult,” Organ acknowledges.
“It’s kind of like taking turns saying words and putting a sentence
together. And we’ve had a couple of false starts. Thinking a song was
cool but then having no inspiration to keep going with it.”
“It was so utterly recreational. The stakes felt kind of low,” adds
Even though they enjoyed working on their own, the duo utilized
a Paris connection, Julia Houdin of the band Lemon Lake. She
provides a few handclaps and generally provided emotional support
during the sessions. You can use the whirling psychedelics of the
Lad Mags to guide our ears into future familiarity; another reference
point is one that we promised wouldn’t be mentioned by us in this
“Somebody explained to me once the difference between what
inspires you and what actually influences your sound,” Organ offers.
“I don’t think a lot of people make that distinction. We like to say
we’re parked outside the arena Moon Duo are playing.”
Le Plaisir released their self-titled EP at 9910 on July 28 [Edmonton]. They
have a run of tapes available for your listening pleasure.
photo: Haley Pukanski
by Levi Manchak
that’s how the songs are guided, directed and
how they move,” she says. At a Sister Ray show,
it’s not unlikely to witness middle-aged rock
dudes tear up alongside show-goers closer to
Coyes’ considerably younger age. Her emotionality
is striking and authentic, and that intensity
resonates through the recording. It’s easy to
understand how Coyes is able to bring a room
to tears every time her voice pushes just a little
past its limit and breaks.
The downside to simultaneously creating and
performing songs in real time is that it can be counter-productive
to building an audience. Coyes points
out, “I’ll play a show and someone will come up after
and ask ‘what was that song where you said THIS’
and I’ll have no fucking clue. How am I ever going to
know that? Sister Ray doesn’t work that way.”
The talent and sensitivity Coyes uses to hone
an ephemeral thought or feeling into a shared
experience takes a certain amount of bravery to even
attempt. It’s probably not useful to ask “Why?” when
confronted with her gift. It may just be better to just
lean into the moment and share it along with her.
Sister Ray’s debut drops on August 18 via Double
Lunch Productions. Pick up a copy of the cassette
that evening during her release show at the Sewing
Machine Factory (Edmonton).
32 | AUGUST 2017 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE
the image and sound of Generation Z
Like an unstoppable freight train running
through the middle of the night, Preston
is the (not-emo) emo band expelling
anti-authoritarian sounds wrapped up in a
meme-loving shell. Architecturally and visually
inspired, the Edmonton post-punk band aims
to create the DIY sounds no one else is making
while exciting themselves and those around in
Mixed with varying time signatures, jazz
punk drums and drone guitar, the identifiable
Preston sound is inspired by things found in
“A lot of what I write is inspired by visual art
and I try to base my guitar work on architecture,”
explains riff curator and vocalist, Ezra Stanielson.
He is joined by his bandmates Cormac,
Brittany, and Zane.
“I think songs should be like buildings and
have a structure. Art transfers easily into music
because you can create a sound off of how
Alongside transcribing the imagery of
everyday life, the dynamic crew of lo-fi punks
contrast their doomsday sounds with personable,
affable attitudes in hopes to separate
themselves from the negativity in the world.
“I want to be exciting,” exclaims Stanielson.
“I want people to be excited!”
Throughout genre hopping and a few
line-up changes, the goal has always remained
consistent: to be confrontational in their sound
and fun in their nature. While facing a common
struggle of minimal spaces for youth bands
to play, the group continues to progress their
sound and craft.
The goal is to have Preston be the best in
Edmonton, then Alberta, then Canada, then the
world,” says Stanielson. While frequently denied
spaces to play due to being just shy of the freeing
age of 18, Preston pays homage to the other
DIY acts creating inclusive spaces.
“People who are pushing culture forward
are young people but it’s so hard to get youth
involved,” claims Stanielson.
Away from the onstage angst and antics,
by Jackie Klapak
Preston has been busy recording new tracks and
dedicating time into solidifying a sound they
can truly call their own. After releasing multiple
tapes since the beginning of the year, including
There is a Wrong Way in June, the goal is to take
time creating tracks to release a whole record
by the end of the year. On track to play more
shows and opening for Screaming Females in
October, Preston is a stark and aggressive force
moving fast and stealing hearts and inspiring
many along the way.
Preston released There Is a Wrong Way on cassette
in June. You can stream or buy the release at
long time collaborators release debut
photo: Jay Procktor
The musical ‘duo’ holds an underrated
place in rock and pop history. It’s a
unique and distinct interchange in
songwriting and performance, set apart from
a solo artist or band. But, you protest! Simon &
Garfunkel, Hall & Oates, Wham!... so perhaps
their relative underrated feel is debatable, but
if you fast forward to 2017, you’ll see very few
duos entering the market. This makes the first
full-length release by Edmonton’s Goldtop all
the more interesting.
Goldtop is the Edmonton electro-rock duo
comprised of indie veteran Everett LaRoi and
Alice Kos. Commonly mistaken for a couple,
LaRoi admits, “we have a little fun with that fact
with the crowd sometimes.”
Both are happily married; Kos notably to
Mark Davis, co-founder of Old Reliable, a band
responsible for carving out the alt-country
genre in this province. Davis played a major
influence in the making of the duo’s first official
release, if only due to his large vintage synth and
drum machine collection falling into the hands
of Kos and LaRoi. Aided by this collection, the
band has found true musical harmony on their
debut album, You Possess Me. Although formed
in 2012, it has been a journey of songwriting,
performing, and gathering their influences to
arrive at this collection of nine songs.
“We stumbled into the duo-with-drummachine/sampler
format while playing some
Eastern Canadian tour dates with the great
unknown American songwriter Marvin Etzioni,”
by Glen Erickson
“This first album shows us exploring sonic
ideas within that format.”
The laundry list of influences for this recording
is fascinating. LaRoi traces his roots back to
Idyl Tea, one of the few indie-pop hopefuls out
of Edmonton in the ‘80s. Kos cites a range of
everything from the Everly Brothers, Psychedelic
Furs and Split Enz, to more recent works by the
Raveonettes. There is an inescapable presence
of lo-fi pioneers Low, a comparison they hear
often and are very comfortable with, due to the
sparse arrangements and the echoing timbre of
The duo has created a seriously cohesive
record, effortlessly blending light, echoed vocals,
layered over persistent guitar riffs and simple,
effective keypads and beats.
“All of our collaboration on this album has
been about instrumentation and arrangements.
We’ve only recently started co-writing, and I
think that makes sense,” clarifies Kos. On You
Possess Me, the duo wrote all but the title track,
which was an offering by their friend Etzioni.
That track was penned by their pal Etzioni in
1993 in honour of American singer-songwriter
Maria McKee, who famously penned the song
“If Love Was a Red Dress (Hang Me in Rags). So
why use his song for the band’s own uses?
LaRoi joyously quips, McKee was “my secret
You Possess Me was released on July 21. The release
party will be hold at The Needle Vinyl Tavern on
August 6 (Edmonton) with guests Marvin Etzioni.
BEATROUTE • AUGUST 2017 | 33
DIY vagabond reveals duality on new release
Vancouver’s Jesse LeBourdais has been a
staple in the Canadian acoustic punk scene
since he began performing in 2012. Over
the last five years, Jesse has zigzagged his way
across the country, playing hundreds of shows and
multiple festivals armed only with his acoustic
guitar, energetic live performance and commanding
voice. As Jesse begins the cycle of releasing his
fourth full-length, his music has begun to evolve
with the addition of a full band, which in turn has
altered the way he records his music.
“Most of the other albums were written only partially,
with the rest of the details being added while I
was in the studio,” explains LeBourdais.
“This is the first album where we had the music,
drum parts, everything done and rehearsed before
entering the studio.”
The new album Grief, Intensity, Friendship is a
slight departure from LeBourdais previous albums
sonically and conceptually, but the anthemic vocal
hooks, acoustic songwriting and painfully honest
lyrics found in his earlier work remains. The reason for
the changes in production style came from working
with the legendary Vancouver based engineer/producer
Jesse Gander at Rain City Studios.
“Working with Gander was really great,” LeBourdais
“He’s very easy to work with and had some great
suggestions and ideas, which I was worried about
Grief, Intensity, Friendship is Jesse LeBourdais’ fourth studio album.
at first because I can be really opinionated about
details as well.”
Thematically the album stays true to its title. The
12 songs are born of the pain of loss, the strength of
photo: Luc Frost
friendship and the excitement of things to come.
“Last year was tough in a lot of ways, I lost some
good friends and the songs are informed by grief in
by Kevin Klemp
Lyrically, the new songs explore the grief and loss
through experience, but also explore some self-deprecating
topics such uncertainty and self-doubt. For
those who have met Jesse, these topics might seem
antithetical to his open and inviting personality.
LeBourdais opened up about the duality, revealing,
“I’m not sure why I write songs like that. I tend to
punish myself for my mistakes and blame myself. I
also find it strange to be promoting myself as a product.
I’ve never been good at that side of the industry,
schmoozing with the
right people and networking.”
For many years, LeBourdais insecurities surrounding
the music industry have manifested into a strong
DIY ethic regarding the production and sale of art.
“I’ve always thought people pass onto other people
so much that they are able to do themselves.”
This attitude not only bleeds into his music but
also into Falter Farms, his coffee roasting company he
started last year that can be found at his merch table.
“I’ve gone too long without a boss,” Jesse explains.
“I’ve gone too far to turn back now.”
Grief, Intensity, Friendship was released online on July
10. You can listen to the release at https://jesselebourdais.bandcamp.com/.
Physical copies will be available
at the Buckingham on August 31 (Edmonton), a
location TBA on September 1 (Calgary), and at the
Silver Buckle on September 2 (Medicine Hat).
34 | AUGUST 2017 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE
letters from winnipeg
life through the rearview
Grant Davidson is the driving force and heart behind Slow Leaves.
kind of obsessed with thinking about the
past and thinking about time,” says singer-songwriter
Grant Davidson (a.k.a. Slow “I’m
Leaves), ruminating about the songs featured on his
latest release, Enough About Me, out independently
on August 11.
With his third album, Davidson returns to what
he knows best, finding poetry in ordinary things and
his own deep introspections. As the artist confesses,
he likes to live, and write about, his life as though he’s
looking back on it through a rearview mirror.
“It’s sort of like reverse nostalgia,” he explains. “I’m
always thinking about the end of my life. Not in a
morbid way, I’m just conscious of my own mortality…I’d
love to be lucky enough to be an old person and
to have warm, nostalgic thoughts when I look back on
my life and not have regrets…I don’t really live in the
moment…I’m always living in a different time.”
On Enough About Me, Slow Leaves’ inward lyricism
is backed by subtle arrangements—pared down but
never sleepy—and ‘70s country-folk signatures interspersed
with moments of straightforward humanity
(hear: “Love and Honesty and Kindness”). Indeed, these
tunes are as soothing and relaxed as they are personal
Further adding to that sense of intimacy is the video
for “Enough About Me,” filmed in collaboration with
his seven-year-old son, Eaton.
The self-referential title track is an easy-going opener
about Davidson’s “inherent selfishness,” featuring a
rich, percussive bass tone that permeates much of the
record. It’s a vintage quality that Davidson says he was
“One of my favourite albums is a Lee Hazlewood
record called Requiem for an Almost Lady,” he says
of the 1971 release. “It’s very simple production,
by Julijana Capone
photo: Christopher Dyck
and the whole thing is kind of driven by this bass. I
was after that.”
While the album was born primarily out of
demos made by Davidson in his basement, some
frequent collaborators make contributions to
the final product, including Jason Tait (Bahamas,
Weakerthans), Julie Penner (Broken Social Scene,
Do Make Say Think), Rej Ricard (The Telepathic
Butterflies, The Wind-Ups), and Rusty Matyas
(Imaginary Cities, Sheepdogs).
Fans of Slow Leaves’ 2014 critically acclaimed record,
Beauty is So Common may recall Matyas’ involvement
as producer on that effort, though this time around
Davidson took on production duties for the first time.
“A lot of the ideas came from me just sitting in my
basement trying things out,” he says. “For good or for
ill, a lot of it was created in isolation.”
Davidson acknowledges his collaborators for helping
to bring a different energy and forward-momentum to
his patient tunes. Yet at their core, his songs remain a
very insular affair.
“I write from an interior place,” he notes.
“I’m always trying to dig deeper into myself—to
a fault—and it’s not something I’m proud of. It sort
of makes me a little self-absorbed…I tend to be very
inward-focused, rather than writing about the things
I see around me. I guess it’s about how I see myself
within all of that.”
Slow Leaves performs on August 30 at the Needle Vinyl
Tavern (Edmonton), September 1 at the Ironwood
Stage and Grill (Calgary), September 2 at Waynestock
(Wayne, AB), September 15-16 at Harvest Moon Festival
(Clearwater, MB), and September 28 at the West End
Cultural Centre (Winnipeg). To purchase Enough About
Me, head to slowleaves.com.
journey into the abyss
Always the chameleons, Holy Void have
journeyed into hypnotic, experimental
depths over the years, much like their
But the Holy Void of two years ago is not what
it was last year or even today. With their next, yetto-be-titled
album, expect Holy Void’s latest sonic
incarnation to take the form of a rough-edged,
no-frills garage band.
“Every album kind of has its own feel,” says
guitarist Grant Trippel.
“With our new record, we want to give it more
of an old garage-rock sort of feel…In the past, when
producing our records, there’s been lots of layering,
lots of atmospheric overdubs, and we wanted
to make this next record very honest, raw with a
live-off-the-floor sound. We’re recording this thing
entirely onto tape.”
The four-piece includes guitarists Trippel and
Michael Henderson-Castle (both of instrumental
surf-rock group The Catamounts), and bassist
Danny Hacking and drummer Kyle Loewen (of the
now defunct Surprise Party), with the later two
also finding time to contribute to other burgeoning
musical projects in Winnipeg, such as shoegaze
supergroup Juniper Bush with Lizzy Burt (of Basic
Nature), and stoner rock act TV Static.
“There’s a lot of cross-pollination going on,” says
Trippel. “Our jam space is always usually active with
some band rehearsing for a show.”
The band released their moody self-tilted EP
in 2015, featuring a collection of melancholic,
reverb-swathed tracks. Fast forward to 2016’s For
Everything Else EP released via the Transistor 66
record label, and the band’s kaleidoscopic palette
starts to come into greater focus.
Songs like “Matte Plastic” shed the doom and
gloom for some psychedelia with an unusually
Holy Void bring their ever-evolving tunes westward this summer.
by Julijana Capone
jaunty vibe, while the eerie “Red River” harkens
the darkness of earlier work. Creeping bass lines
swirl around echoing guitar riffs and Henderson-Castle’s
wobbly vocals. Given the immense—and
often tragic—history of the murky
waters (read: Drag the Red), the foreboding atmosphere
seems worthy of the band’s self-styled
“We were in a bit of a transitional phase with the
last EP,” says Trippel. “We don’t want to be dark all
the time. We enjoy playing music of all styles.”
With all of the members of the band amalgamating
their collective influences into the project,
it’s easy to hear why they can’t settle on a singular
sound. But that’s just part of the Holy Void journey.
With a few EPs under their belts and a debut
full-length on the horizon, the band is ready to get
in the van and hit the highway for a nine-date stint
across Western Canada.
For those eager to hear Holy Void’s next effort,
Trippel mentions that a new single will be out
via their Bandcamp by the time they get out on
Aside from crushing beers in a bathtub, and
managing rotting fruit and fast-food debris in a hot
van, Trippel says they’ve yet to experience anything
too wild and crazy while on tour.
“We haven’t been robbed, we’ve managed
to break even and even make a bit of cash,” says
“Being with these guys it’s just always an
Holy Void perform on August 3 at Vangelis (Saskatoon),
August 4 at Mill Creek Café and Catering
(Edmonton), August 5 at the Palomino Smokehouse
(Calgary), August 12 at the Astoria (Vancouver),
and August 15 at the Slice (Lethbridge).
BEATROUTE • AUGUST 2017 | 35
JEDI MIND TRICKS
motivated by clarity, and a powerful mother figure
Vinnie Paz is on a writing tear, aided by a newfound sense of clarity.
Philadelphia in the early ‘90s was a hub
for counterculture. Revolving around
the thriving skateboarding scene were
polar opposite scenes emerging from metal,
hardcore, punk and hip-hop. From that
came a massively influential duo who are
now releasing their ninth album, The Bridge
and the Abyss. It comes 20 years after their
first full-length record and more than two
decades since their first EP, the infamous
Amber Probe (1996). Jedi Mind Trick’s main
spitter Vinnie Paz spoke with BeatRoute
on the phone from Philly, apologizing for
missing the first call. He was out for sushi
with his mom.
“There’s some freedom in not knowing
what the fuck you’re doing when you’re young
and that’s kind of what it was,” Paz says of
JMT’s origin story. He explains that in those
early days, their influences still shined through
too much, and that by taking the time to find
out exactly who they were, they were better
received in the long run.
“When you don’t know the rules, then
they’re not there to be abided by,” he says.
Their first full-length record came out in ’97,
and is wordily dubbed The Psycho-Social,
Chemical, Biological & Electro-Magnetic
Manipulation of Human Consciousness.
Stuffed full of analytical, grand scheme lyrics,
it features blazing rhymes over lo-fi, ponderous
beats. Released when Paz was only
19-years-old and doing a lot of drugs, it set
the standard musically and literally for JMT’s
lengthy career. Consciously, Paz got sober just
a year ago after being a “full-blown alcoholic”
who drank two bottles of Grey Goose a day.
He has now found clarity. In this sober year, he
said he has probably written more than in the
entire previous decade.
“There’s a method to the madness now
that I’m not sure was there before. Which isn’t
a bad thing, some cool things are born out of
chaos… It’s a little bit less chaotic [now] and a
little more regimented and thought out and
there’s more respect for the craft than there
Paz reflected on making records in the
pre-digital music industry and explained how
Jedi’s “bugged-out, trippy, drug-induced psychosis
type shit” painted the act into a corner
they had to dig themselves out of.
“A thing [is] only really a mistake to me if
you don’t correct something or learn from it,”
offers Paz on the lessons learnt from musical
He said their second album, 2000’s legendary
Violent by Design, was partially made
in response to their first album’s perceived
strangeness. The album featured a more
hardcore style both vocally and lyrically, and
is infused with potent ferocity. It gained the
group a huge following.
“This is the shit that we’re on, but I mean,
I’m just one of those people that feels blessed
that people were interested on any level, and
appreciated what we did so I’ve never looked
back on things.”
When talking about releasing their latest
album The Bridge and the Abyss amidst the
current musical climate for hip-hop where
many are divided over what constitutes “real,”
Paz weighed in. He discussed it from the perspective
of growing up in Philly with two older
metal-head brothers, and the multiple subcultures
that were attracted to skateboarding.
“Let’s say you’re at the show, and then you
and I are hanging out at the show in Calgary
right, and some kid comes in and he’s like, ‘yo
underground hip-hop all day man, yadayadayada.’
That would somehow imply to me
that all other underground hip-hop is good
and a lot of it sucks.”
He continues, “I mean in 1990 was MC
Hammer and Vanilla Ice any better than Lil
Yachty? Alright, Lil Yachty’s out now, so what I
had to listen to [was] Vanilla Ice. There’s been
whack shit and good since the beginning of
the old shit [in] 1972.”
Paz has some pointed advice for aspiring
by Paul Rodgers
rappers which is split between what he calls a
“real answer” and a “politically correct, I don’t
want to sound like a dick answer.”
“My real answer is get your degree and
don’t rap. Because there’s not enough room
and you’re not as good as you think you are.
But that’s my real answer.”
Conversely, his politically correct answer
is to essentially take his mother’s advice, who
would “slap [him] upside the head if he was
ever rude to fan.”
“That’s why I’ve been able to sustain this
is. Because of what was instilled in me by my
mother and that is to always treat people the
way you want to be treated and be polite to
everybody because they’ve seen it all.”
In interviews and in lyrics, Paz comfortably
tackles politics, history, science, religion
and more, but he says conventional school
failed him and he never considered post
secondary after leaving high school. Rather,
he has always been independently driven to
consume knowledge and is an avid reader.
He also pointed to world travel, reiterating
that witnessing how governments do things
differently in countries around the globe has
“Man, I think travelling changed me more
than I ever thought that it would because I’m
kind of like a South Philly, dago, grease ball,
Italian kid and pretty stuck in my ways and
didn’t really think that anything would change
how I saw things.”
The wisdom he imparted over the phone
was simply too vast to be contained to a
limited word count, but with a new album
recorded with more passion and clarity than
ever, in addition to their already outstanding
back catalog, there are nearly endless channels
through which to tap into his psyche.
Don’t miss Jedi Mind Tricks when they perform
at the Commodore Ballroom on August 26
(Vancouver) and Marquee Beer Market &
Stage on August 28 (Calgary).
LET’S GET JUCY!
August certainly seems to be pulling out all the stops before
the autumn months come creeping up on us like the
orange-bellied, lukewarm prick that it is. For those of you
unable to attend festivals outside of Calgary, know that there is no
short supply of amazing artists coming through the city this month
to slake your cravings for music-induced euphoria.
As my esteemed associate Colin did an excellent preview on the festival
last month I won’t dwell long upon it, but I need to at least mention
once more that you can catch Ms. Lauryn Hill, Migos, Anderson .Paak
and RZA performing as Bobby Digital at One Love Music Festival on
August 4 at Max Bell. Absolutely mental.
With Shambhala right around the corner, news of pre and post Sham
parties are popping up all over the map. On August 5 at the HiFi definitely
try and catch LA’s Crywolf. A relatively new producer and multi-instrumentalist,
his music weaves multiple sounds into a remarkably cohesive
and fresh sound. And of course, as with many up and coming artists, as
he is sure to find a great deal of success, it’s always a good bet to catch
them in as intimate a setting as the Hifi. Vibes!
Chasing Summer Music Festival takes place once again on August 5
and 6 at Max Bell Centre and features some titans in the EDM realm including
Tiesto, Zedd, Infected Mushroom and What So Not. There are a
few names peppered throughout that should appeal to those less wowed
by the big-room names such as Rezz, The Funk Hunters, Delta Heavy and
One of the founding member’s of hip-hop collective Doomtree, P.O.S.
performs at Dickens with Transit22 and Brom, who is releasing his new
album, opening things up. This goes down August 11.
Another instalment of New Wave takes place at the HiFi on August
17 featuring locals OAKK, Preacher Please and Metafloor as well as
blooming Berlin bass music artist Mad Zach. He performed at this year’s
Coachella and has been on a music-producing spree.
On August 25 at Habitat, UK’s Fixate performs. He has only been
around since 2014 but he has been making sizeable waves both with his
cutting-edge solo music, which circumnavigates a jungle-type terrain
while straying into other uncharted regions, but also as one seventh of
supergroup Richie Brains. Get your gun fingers prepped and ready.
Perhaps the most anticipated and intriguing of concerts on this list has
to be South Africa’s freakiest export, Die Antwoord. They are performing
at the BMO Centre on August 30 and it is sure to be a memorable
spectacle to say the least. From their haunting music videos, their work
on major films like Chappie, their cryptic interviews and social media
presence, claims that they are breaking up, to of course their raucous
music itself, which is a hybrid of hip-hop and rave music, they are one of
the most captivating acts around.
One of the best parties of the year is back once again closing out the
month on August 31, the HiFi Alley Party, this year featuring Montreal’s
Project Pablo. He delivered one of the standout house sets at this summer’s
Bass Coast festival and is guaranteed to deliver the goods to that
always memorable alley rave.
As per usual, please don’t hesitate to contact me at email@example.com
if there have been some egregious lapses in coverage or if you have some
hot-ticket item that warrants mentioning. Have fun, do all the things that
I would do.
• Paul Rodgers
BEATROUTE • AUGUST 2017 | 37
38 | AUGUST 2017 • BEATROUTE JUCY
from flowery mind paintings to flexing sound systems
Roberto Villar has been making
mid-tempo, futuristic hip-hop styled
music under the alias Preacher Please,
but he is pressing pause on that this month
to focus on a new project, simply named
Ting. With this moniker he will return to his
roots and make the bass-driven music he’s
always wanted to.
“I’m not fully giving up on Preacher Please,
I still like to write super flowery tracks that
are less on the bass side of it, where as this
whole new Ting … Ting is just really sub-driven
stuff, dancefloor bass music,” says Villar.
When he first began producing music
he was captivated by and drawn towards
dubstep, which shepherded him into the
world of bass music. As a self-taught music
producer he explains that he didn’t feel like
his early efforts were good enough. Over
time he ventured further into genres like
hip-hop and had more fun experimenting
with those sounds.
Now that he has learned from those early
trials and errors he feels confident enough
with his skills that he wants to go back
to creating music driven by those earlier
influences. He also developed as a producer
through his work in the grime music collective
“With Society Black that’s where I wanted
to go with production, but there was a lot of
different tastes in that, so the vision of the
sound was similar to what I was going for.
Now I’m more focused on Ting, because it’s
just me, and I can make all the decisions and
the vision [is] a lot clearer.”
The aesthetic for the marketing and
design aspect of the music also differs
drastically from Preacher Please. That was
centered around Kawaii, which exemplifies
cuteness in Japanese culture. In contrast,
Ting is more robotic and influenced by
the new era of jungle and drum and bass,
exemplified in the press photos snapped by
He has an EP ready to unveil and a single
that will be released on Calgary-based Noctilux
Collective. The progression he has made
as an artist is immediately evident; the music
is cutting edge: experimental and complex
enough to be impressive while still being
definitely danceable. Akin to the sounds
of artists like Shades and Ivy Lab who have
been dominating festivals around the world
in the past couple of years.
With the confidence in the bold new
aesthetic and sonic approach he has found,
and a carefully calculated marketing strategy,
Ting seeks to find new audiences and is sure
to do so in the immediate future.
See Preacher Please’s final show (at least for
now) at the HFi on August 17 (Calgary). Watch
for Ting material in the near future.
New sound, new aesthetic, new Ting.
by Paul Rodgers
BEATROUTE • AUGUST 2017 | 39
EDMONTON FOLK FEST HIGHLIGHTS
there’s something for everyone on the hill
by Mike Dunn
Hailing from Memphis, Tennessee, Valerie June’s unique blend of
classic soul and traditional American music is delightfully fresh,
adding atmospheric soundscapes which brilliantly complement
the soulful, childlike wonder present in her vocal timbre. Having recorded
with Dan Auerbach and Old Crow Medicine Show, and toured with
Jake Bugg, Valerie June’s ability to cross genre styles positions her as an
artist to watch.
The charisma and stage presence of Shovels & Rope can’t be understated.
Relying on the strength of their songs and sparse instrumentation,
Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent have been at the forefront of
underground Americana since their self-titled debut dropped in 2008.
Hearst’s voice in instantly recognizable; if you’ve heard it once, it sticks
with you, and Trent’s harmonies and lead vocals recall Vic Chestnutt,
while their instrumental approach is the both the standard and template
for minimalism in contemporary folk music.
Andy Shauf should require little introduction at this point. Since his
2012 debut, Bearer Of Bad News, Shauf has shown an savvy knack for
pop composition and arrangement, his hooks are immediately catchy,
but not in the clap-on-three—everyone-sing-whoa way of modern folk
pop. Painstakingly producing his lush and meticulously crafted albums
on his own, and playing every instrument on his records, Shauf’s style is
reminiscent of Summerteeth-era Wilco, with the hushed ambience of
Named for the patron saint of musicians, Los Angeles-based La
Santa Cecilia marries classic pop song structure to their laid back
traditional Latin sound. Driven by their Pan-American rhythms and
powerful and passionate voice of Gloria Estrada, La Santa Cecilia draws
musically on their Latino heritage while updating their sound with
elements of R&B, rock, and jazz, an intriguing mix which has found
them on stages worldwide opening for such artists as Stevie Wonder,
and Elvis Costello.
Anais Mitchell’s style has long been rooted in the socially conscious
traditional American folk music of Dylan, Van Ronk, Guthrie, and Baez,
while her precocious vocal style and bouncing fingerpicked guitar playing
maintains a very contemporary vibe, while juxtaposing against her
stark lyrical portrayals of the hardest elements of life and the upheavals
that political machinations have on regular people. Mitchell’s songs feel
like novellas, her narratives a constant reminder of the passed down
traditions of storytelling in folk music.
Rhiannon Giddens is no stranger to Edmonton, having appeared at
the festival previously in in 2014, and in 2007 with The Carolina Chocolate
Drops, as well as at the inaugural Interstellar Rodeo. Giddens is a deft
multi-instrumentalist and bandleader whose style is an amalgamation of
traditional African-American styles, including Appalachian folk, country
and blues, and early New Orleans jazz, while crossing into classic soul
grooves. Giddens is as socially conscious as she is musically dextrous, and
was invited to The White House in 2015 to perform for then-President
Barack Obama as part of the “In Performance at The White House” series.
For Martin Kerr, making his mark in the Edmonton folk scene has
seen him rise from a busking regular on the streets downtown, to a
sold-out performance at The Winspear Centre in 2016. His debut album,
Better Than Brand New, shows a songwriter developing his voice, with
wholesome and homespun songs of hope and love.
The woody and atmospheric sound of Northumberland, England’s
The Unthanks is exactly what one would expect upon hearing
something described as “contemporary British folk music”. The lilting
harmonies of sisters Rachel and Becky Unthank conjure an image of
seaside towns bordered by lush forests, and it’s near impossible to hear
them without feeling like you’re being transported to some Dickensian
space in history, while their atmospheric instrumental backing provides a
Mokoomba brings a fresh energy with their AfroBeat sound, using
digital samples and an upbeat fusion of traditional rhythms, as well
as ska, funk and soukous, a Congolese fingerpicked guitar style. From
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, Mokoomba has been entrancing dance floors
throughout the world with the their infectious, celebratory style.
Leon Bridges is another name everyone at the festival should be excited
about. His throwback Rhythm n’ Blues sound conjures the ghosts
of Sam Cooke, early James Brown, and Otis Redding at his most tender.
Bridges garnered huge buzz at SXSW in 2015, and dropped his debut
record, Coming Home, later that June. Bridges’ classic soul sound might
remind some festival goers on the hill of the show-stopping performances
of James Hunter several years ago, with the added measure of Bridges’
own youthful energy.
Edmonton Folk Music Festival takes place August 10 -13 at Gallagher Park.
SHOVELS & ROPE
LA SANTA CECILIA
BEATROUTE • AUGUST 2017 | 41
rushing, wise and uplifting rumble
Blind Pilot calls lyrics the “most painful, aggravating” part of song writing.
Blind Pilot has a rich, candid sound and has
seamlessly expand from two pieces to six, and
is getting a little bigger still with the addition
of a young child. Frontman, singer, and songwriter
Israel Nebeker tells BeatRoute this came about after
he received a phone call from bandmates Luke
Ydstie and Kati Claborn’s 3-year-old daughter. She
was asking why they don’t have a saxophone in the
band, and, after struggling to find and answer, was
met with a determined, “Well, I’ll play saxophone.”
Their third album, 2016’s And Then Like Lions, was
created five years after their last. It’s deeply felt and
glimmers resoundingly with wisdom, a soft focus on
vulnerability and the artful use of symbols. Recollecting
the loss of a parent after a two-year journey of care,
the end of a 13 year-long relationship and the courage
that’s forged in time with growth, Nebeker produced
the album with long time collaborator Tucker Martine
(The Decemberists, Neko Case, My Morning Jacket).
“I’ve been really enjoying people being willing to
share their personal stories and telling me about
their life. At first I was a little overwhelmed and then
I realized that’s what I was asking for with this album”
he says. Despite the unavoidable hiatus and reasonable
fears that it would be detrimental to the band,
Nebeker is humbled that their most recent release has
seen many loving responses over the last year.
The album is well thought-out and sensibly passionate,
but it didn’t come without work. “Everyone’s style
comes naturally but words are always the thing that
are the most painful, aggravating, frustrating part of
the process of song writing for me.”
While being able to pick from melodies and
song ideas is an easier part of the process, Nebeker
continues, “Lyrics are so revealing that my inner
censor kicks into overdrive as soon as I’m in that
part of the process.”
He plainly labours, “To let whatever is at the core of
the issue be spoken” but has tricks to stay above water.
“I’ll write a line in a song and maybe it’s particularly
vulnerable or really addressing a wound,” he says. He
by Arielle Lessard
continues, “Maybe in that moment it’s pessimistic,
and then I’ll think about the idea that maybe I could
be singing that line on stage for years down the line,
which makes you double check yourself, do I really
mean this sentiment?”
Nebeker is no stranger to the astonishing, shocking
and sometimes incomprehensible pull of circumstance
itself and talks brightly about life’s shaky ground. He
addresses this especially keenly in “Packed Powder,”
which builds around repacking fireworks with different
insides, and working various jobs in the hopes that it
will foster certain things within.
“That song is kind of funny to me because I’m
writing about all the different directions I’ve thought
about going in my life, and how they seem like dead
ends, and the general notion that you have to wait
and see who you are and life is full of these ‘surprise!
That’s not really the direction you’re meant to keep
going in!’ moments.”
Looking back he realizes, “It makes me feel a little
spoilt but I can’t imagine doing another thing besides
this and truly loving my life doing something else. [...]
It’s been pretty amazing actually… it’s kind of remarkable
how well we do get along, and the times there’s
been bad blood, we’ve all grown enough to make
things even stronger between us so I’m pretty lucky
with the band members I’ve had.”
Nebeker explains, “That’s my goal of writing and
performing is to have those moments of deep connections
that are maybe not quite explainable.”
In fortitude, Blind Pilot continues to make decisions
mindfully all the way from their early days of bike
touring to hold down both grand and difficult paths.
Maintaining a sensitive spirit, Nebeker’s unhurried,
accepting approach hopes to nurture some growth
into another album after this tour is completed.
Blind Pilot performs with Anna Tivel at Good Will
(Winnipeg) on August 4th, The Starlite Room (Edmonton)
on August 6th, and Commonwealth Bar and Stage
(Calgary) on August 7th.
where simple folk and elaborate rock anthems converge
The stage has called alluringly to Sam
Weber his entire life. Raised in a family
of musicians, he has been jamming since
he can remember anything. His band’s first live
show was at one a.m. on a Tuesday morning
at a bar in Victoria; everyone performing was
definitely underage. Thanks to this deeply embedded
experience, it’s been a steady upwards
climb for Weber and his compatriots, Marshall
Wildman and Esme John. They released their
second offering Valentina Nevada in 2016.
The group writes folk music from an honest
place, with just enough rock influence to necessitate
the use of electric guitars. Weber’s guitar
prowess is definitely a selling point of the group,
with salty little licks filling the breaths between
verses. Grandiose solos punctuate the climax of
many tunes. Despite the grandiosity, at its core, the
group’s music is centred on minimalist folk.
“We don’t really like music that is too crowded,
so we tend to strip it down,” Weber tells BeatRoute.
“It’s just a game of trying to find what fits, trying
to make the songs work with the least moving
parts possible. You want all those elements to have
a voice within the context of the song.”
At times, their music is somehow simultaneously
a simple folk song, and at others, an
elaborate rock anthem. The subtle fuzz and twang
of electric folk is ever present, accompanied by
keys that drift from holding down quiet rhythms
to plaintive lilting melodies. Each part to their
composition is distinct yet sits together cohesively,
with one piece rising to prominence at carefully
selected moments. When the keys quiet down, a
guitar solo rises to fill the space; as the screaming
guitar falls silent, a melody narrates the hook back
into the chorus.
Sam Weber and company hail from Victoria.
by Jodi Brak
This structure “just comes from being really true
to the song, not overproducing and just representing
the song really well without having one thing
overshadowing what the essence of the song is,”
“So we went into the Valentina Nevada record
trying to do that, and I think we did.”
Valentina Nevada is the second LP released by
the trio; following the 2014 release Shadows in the
Road. Both projects were largely self-produced, and
although the trio feel proud to have accomplished
this much, they feel it’s time to bring some fresh
ears into their future process.
“Something we learned from that project is I
think we’ve gotten as much mileage as we can get
out of self-producing,” Weber states.
“Now that we’ve really established what we’re
all about, we want to find somebody that can help
Currently, Sam Weber is in the midst of a tour
through Western Canada and the northern United
States, still riding on the waves of their 2016 release.
However, word is the end of this tour marks the
beginning of serious work on their next project.
“The Valentina record, the songs that ended
up working better were the ones that used a little
bigger concepts, they were a little bit easier to walk
around in. This one that I’m working on right now
is very microscopic by comparison, smaller stories.
It’s just stuff about how life just kind of keeps happening
no matter what you are doing. It took me a
while to find a way to articulate those things.”
Sam Weber will be playing at Tractorgrease on August
10 (Chilliwack), The Ironwood Stage and Grill
on August 11 (Calgary), and at the Wapiti Music
Festival on August 12 and 13 (Fernie).
42 | AUGUST 2017 • BEATROUTE ROOTS
staying honest when folks don’t get the message
Charleston’s SUSTO are a band with a lot going
on, both musically and career-wise. The band is
approaching road warrior status, making their way
back to Canada for the second time in a year, riding the
wave of their layered and complex second full-length album
& I’m Fine Today. The record continues the roots-rock fever
dream that began with their self-titled debut SUSTO (2014),
but with a newfound investment in perception and the
doors thereof. In a Wilco-esque turn-of-effects, the band
brought slimey synths, symphonic strings, and other new
types of tonality to their roots-rock framework. The flanger
guitar on and keyboard work might ring psychedelic next
to song titles like “Wasted Mind” and “Far Out Feeling,” but
the effect is gentle, accenting the careful and considered
lyricism which centres the record.
BeatRoute caught up with Justin Osborne on the road
in Texas. Somewhat ironically, he was with his fiancé on
vacation instead of trapped in a sweaty tour van. Part of
the reason Osborne wanted to play music was because he
“wanted to travel,” and even if the experience of doing it is
rote, eventually the rhythm became manageable, allowing
the band to relax and reflect on how “fortunate” they are to
be touring artists. It’s become so comfortable that Osborne
can even stand to take road trips as vacations.
Having toured so much in the last few years, the effect
of being a lyric-forward band is becoming more apparent,
especially in the distinction between “exposing [themselves]
to other people’s audiences” and headlining slots
with audiences they have already “won over.” Their most
contentious musical outing is likely the fun-loving anthem
“Chilling on the Beach with my Best Friend Jesus Christ.” It’s
a light-hearted song to be sure, but Osborne thinks about
it optimistically, as a song that was intended to “bring
attention to religion in general” such that people who are
religious, or have divergent relationships to religion can
“relate to and have fun with [it].”
In the song Osborne sings about “going out for beers, but
not too many beers with Jesus Christ,” a way of playing off the
inherent humour of bringing the figure of Jesus into a particular
cultural moment, but still incorporating the message of
moderation that Jesus espoused. But with audiences that are
not familiar with it, it has sometimes been met with a “weird
reception.” Even Osborne’s mom was initially “hurt” after
seeing the music video, but has since “come around.” In a
testament to both the potency of the song and the success of
the band, they starting noticing it being requested and thus
they “have been playing it at almost every show now.”
This religious deference is also present in “Jah Werx,” so
named after a Rastafarian epithet, and even though the
song is not about the flying spaghetti monster as their
“Susto Stories” video series would make you believe, it is
similarly an exercise in introspection built out of a moment
of levity. The song was started in a party as a “chant or
mantra” and once they put it to a beat produced by close
friend Wolfgang Zimmerman, Osborne freestyled the lyrics
into a full song.
“It’s important to approach lyrics and songs with a light
heart,” Osborne offers.
“I love the feeling when music feels new and familiar at
the same time.”
SUSTO performs at Commonwealth Bar & Stage on August 8
(Calgary), The Needle Vinyl Tavern on August 9 (Edmonton),
and the Park Theatre on August 12 (Winnipeg).
“It’s important to approach lyrics and songs with a light heart.”
by Liam Prost
photo: Paul Chelmis
BEATROUTE • AUGUST 2017 | 43
vinyl destination for a slow revolution
“There’s delays all over that thing as far as you can reach.”
Drawing a straight line between two points is usually the fastest
way chart a course,
but when it comes to Moncton, New Brunswick’s resident
psychedelic doom band, Zaum,
“It’s about the journey not the destination.”
Or, so says bassist/vocalist/synth/sitar player Kyle Alexander McDonald,
who along with bandmate drummer/percussionist Christopher
Lewis has been painting black vinyl overtures for the soul since forming
Zaum back in 2013. Named for the linguistic experiments of Russian
poets Velimir Khlebnikov and Aleksei Kruchenykh, Zaum’s string theory
seeks to decelerate the rhythms of life until vibrational escape routes
appear between the notes.
photo: Matteo Bassoli
“It’s funny, we never intentionally set out to make a song long, it’s just
the way things turn out,” says McDonald.
“Most of our tempos are just so unbelievably slow that when you take
the structure of a normal four-minute-long song it can quickly turn into
a 16-minute song. When you watch the band it probably feels like we
have to have more of a memory, but surprisingly being in the band itself
it doesn’t really feel that way at all.”
Touring heavily throughout Europe (where audiences are more
likely to seek out bands that they’re unfamiliar with, in McDonald’s
estimation), the band made a name for themselves by laying down
heavy atmospheric sets that established a hypnotic state of mind for
by Christine Leonard
“We’ve been so busy touring overseas that we haven’t had the chance
to play in Canada maybe as much as people would like, but I almost
feel that you’re better off doing it that way than over saturating,” says
An imaginative amalgam of exotic Eastern and progress Western
ingredients, Zaum’s latest release Eidolon appeared in October of
2016 via underground curators I Hate Records. Crafted for vinyl,
the vine-draped Eidolon follows the vine-draped path of their 2014
debut, Oracles, and their impressive 2015 split 7-inch with fellow
stoner rockers Shooting Guns, dubbed Himalaya to Mesopotamia.
Consisting entirely of a pair of sprawling tracks, including “Influence
of the Magi” and “The Enlightenment,” Eidolon’s enthralling
emanations take the listener on a deep-listening voyage through
caverns measureless to man, to quote Coleridge. Fans of Sleep, Om
and Yob would be well advised to experience Zaum’s sonic sherpa
sessions for themselves.
“It is a trip. There’s no way around that it’s psychedelic-based. I mean,
there’s delays all over that thing as far as you can reach.”
Prepared to astral project themselves across Canada after a lengthy
absence, the Music NB award-winning duo is looking forward to road
tripping across Canada with supporting act Flying Fortress. To make
things even more interesting, Flying Fortress’s drummer, Steelrider, is
tied-up so McDonald will be pulling double-duty and filling in for him.
“I feel like it’s the first time I’m going to bite this much off. So, it might
be more than I can chew!”
Concludes McDonald, “But I’m coming in really prepared and I know
that band very well and I’m super familiar with the material. I’m looking
forward to playing with our old friends, and new ones in the future, it’s
just such a crazy deep pool of up and coming bands out there.”
ZAUM perform with Flying Fortress at the Brixx on August 12 (Edmonton)
and at Distortion on August 18 (Calgary).
as raunchy as they wanna be
You don’t have to be Tammy Wynette to
know that sometimes it’s hard to be a
woman, but that doesn’t mean you have
to whine about it. Not when you can yell it at the
top of your lungs while strange men guzzle draft
beer from your cleavage. But, I’m getting ahead
of myself. Meet Pervcore, the most inappropriate
band at your friendly neighbourhood BBQ. Good
thing they’re usually the ones hosting.
“The band obviously likes to have fun and is a
sleaze-thrash party band and that reputation is still
intact, but everybody realizes that we’re trying to put
on a performance and equality counts,” says guitarist
Mike Davies (2/3 of Nothing).
“I think of this band as being akin to something
like Nashville Pussy; we’re all about entertainment
and empowerment. The musical content
has evolved to the point where you can’t really
perform properly with 15 beers in your system.
Everybody’s still having a good time, but it’s more
about putting on a great show.”
Since being formed four years ago by co-vocalists
TerraLee Doolittle and Emi Van Der Pol, Pervcore
has become a genre-defining band that puts female
talent up front without pulling any punches.
“It’s how I get my anger out,” says newlywed Doolittle.
“For example, the song “Get Fucked” is based on
a true story. Some guy hit me with a bat, so I got up
and hit him right back. Take that!”
Backed up by the instrumental support of Davies,
Pervcore: a weighty yet agile six-piece raunchcore ensemble.
along with Emi’s bassist/spouse, Kuba Van Der Pol
(he took her name, how cool is that?) and TerraLee’s
husband/percussionist Dallas Lobb (Electric Revival),
photo: Linda Cheong
and founding guitarist Craig Kubitzki, the band began
generating some seriously vitriolic material.
“Craig makes up the metal contingent and I would
by Christine Leonard
be the punk rock component,” veteran string-slinger
“Like any good thrash band, we’re a punk-metal
crossover. Most of the songwriting is done
from the punk rock side of things and then it gets
spiced up with some Iron Maiden-esque split
guitar solos. We take the three-chord punk thing
and put a really big melodic spin on it. Then you
throw in the two female powerhouses and the
dynamic of the two works together really well.
They’re both tremendously vocally talented and
have huge range and presence.”
Romancing audiences as a weighty yet agile
six-piece raunchcore ensemble, Pervcore thrives
on blurring that fine line between the provocative
and the profane. Stepping off the curb on
their forthcoming release, Tales from the Gutter
Volume I, the sextet is primed to seduce new
fans and reward the old with a combination of
guile and gusto that has to be seen, heard and
perhaps even tasted live to be truly appreciated.
“I get a lot of feedback from girls about how
they love what we say and the way we say it,”
reports vocalist Van Der Pol. “A lot of the lyrics
and song content are based on things that a lot
of girls want to say, but don’t normally get to,
because of politeness.”
Pervcore releases Tales from the Gutter Volume I will
be released at Distortion on August 5 (Calgary).
44 | AUGUST 2017 • BEATROUTE SHRAPNEL
Edmonton death thrashers unleash their debut offering
by Sarah Kitteringham
Head to beatroute.ca for a full album stream of Necromancy Enthroned!
On a humid night in July of 2016, Edmonton’s
premiere malevolent black
death act Dire Omen came to Calgary,
performing on a bill with the legendary Rites of
Thy Degringolade, Vaalt, and the newly formed
Cultist. (Full disclosure: the author of this piece
booked that bill). After the performance, DO guitarist
T.G. sheepishly pushed a rather rudimentary
demo into our hands, requesting we check it
out “if you want.”
Containing three very raw extreme thrash
tracks, Demo 2016 was a strong indicator that
Phylactery had rock solid foundations. Dubbed
after an amulet or charm that is worn for its
supernatural powers, the band remained largely
silent until they were announced for Vancouver’s
taste-making Covenant Festival, performing
alongside Revenge, Bölzer, and Blood Incantation.
It was also announced that Dark Descent sub-label
Unspeakable Axe Records (responsible for releases
by Besieged, Encyrcle, Infiltrator, Nucleus, and Sabbatory),
had picked them up. Clearly, we weren’t
the only ones impressed by the blazing guitars,
anguished shrieks, and rudimentary sound.
The amateurism is no longer present on the fulllength,
Necromancy Enthroned. Indeed, it sounds
like the band spent most of the last year jamming
repeatedly, resulting in a cohesive blend of death
thrash that far supersedes the demo. Conceptually,
the album is unified, casting morbid tales of necromancy
and lich (undead creatures popularized by
“I think there are two aspects to the lyrical choices
made on the record, the aesthetic side and the conceptual
side. Speaking aesthetically, I grew up playing
and pouring over the rulebooks for Dungeons and
Dragons and other similar games, so I have a strong
connection to the tropes and characters of that
type of fantasy,” explains drummer and vocalist K.T.,
also of Dire Omen. He and T.G. are joined by on the
record by bassist J.M., also of Edmonton brutal death
metal act Display of Decay.
“You combine that with metal, which has had
photo: Dana Zuk
morbid imagery from day one, and the obvious result
is talking about the undead,” furthers K.T.
“This also fits us on a conceptual level because we
are a band that very deliberately attempts to skew
our sound and influences towards an old-school
style. It seems only fitting that the lyrics on an album
trying to revive a past era of death thrash is focused
on coming back from the dead.”
Reminiscent of classic American death thrash like
Morbid Saint and Demolition Hammer, the record
also conjures up comparisons to Calgary’s own
BLACKRAT with its reliance on a spooky ambiance
and frequent feedback.
“If we’ve done our job right then that act of necromancy,
of bringing that sound back to life, should
be enthroned as something new and our own. Hence
Speaking further to the cohesion, the album artwork
was created by celebrated Italian painter Paolo
Girardi. Recently, you’ve seen his work on offerings
by Temple of Void, Manilla Road, Vastum, Inquisition
and many more.
“The album is a narrative running across all 11
songs and the piece which Paolo Girardi did for
us shows the two main characters of the story,”
“On the cover is the main antagonist, this half bug,
half goat creature known as the Plaguelord, with the
Lich character on the opposite side… The Plaguelord
character came to me in a dream while on tour and
by the end of the day everything about the story fell
He finishes, “Because this album is a story about
hubris and conflict, it made sense to have the
antagonist on the cover. So rather than it being a
conceptual piece of art it is more of an emblematic
piece of art for the narrative we’re trying to tell.”
And the result of all this is?
Necromancy Enthroned is one of the strongest
offerings emerging from Alberta in 2017.
Phylactery’s full-length debut Necromancy Enthroned
comes out on August 18 via Unspeakable Axe Records.
Although there are multiple great metal
shows coming through Alberta in
August, we decided that Canadian metal
never gets quite enough love. That’s why this
month, every single band featured in the Shrapnel
section hails from the true north strong and
free. Canadian metal, just obey! On your weak
sounds, WE WILL PREY!
To kick it off, head over to beatroute.ca for our
album premiere of Edmonton death thrashers Phylactery.
The band runs in the vein of Morbid Saint
and Demolition Hammer, and their newest offering
Necromancy Enthroned RIPS.
Meanwhile, wordsmith Christine Leonard spoke
with East Coast doom masters Zaum about crafting
transcendental hymns to far away lands; read
her article in the section before heading to their gig.
The band is touring across Canada this August with
the fantastic Flying Fortress. If you don’t know the
latter yet, it’s about damn time you checked them
out. The duo is made up of the two thirds of now
defunct classic metal/doom trio Goat Horn. The
sonic shift from their previous act is noticeable;
while Goat Horn channeled early Cathedral, Flying
Fortress goes for a bastardized, alt-indie version of
Inepsy. Their newest offering BITCHWIND comes
out on October 10 via Uncle D Records, and is
available for streaming now over at https://flyingfortresstunes.bandcamp.com.
Get in on the brilliance
at Distortion on Friday, August 18 (Calgary);
don’t be surprised if you see ZAUM drummer Kyle
McDonald behind the kit for the show rather than
Steel Rider (AKA Jason Mellish).
Speaking of Canadian metal, the gals and
guys behind a ton of what goes on in Calgary
See Hazzerd on August 11 at Distortion’s 13th Anniversary Party!
are celebrating their 13th anniversary this August.
Head to Distortion on August 10, 11, and
12 for the Calgary Beer Core’s annual birthday
bash. This year, they’ll be showcasing a monster
load of Canuck bands, including Golers, Path
to Extinction, Concrete Funeral, Glare, Train
Bigger Monkeys, Hazzerd, Citizen Rage,
and Rebuild/Repair. Of note: two bands will
be releasing albums at these parties. First up,
Hazzerd! They’ll be releasing their CD Misleading
Evil on Friday, August 11. The band plays an
energetic style of classic thrash with vocals reminiscent
of Megadeth, and their album spans
eight tracks. Be sure to pick up a copy at the
show. Second up: Citizen Rage! The band will be
releasing their fifth EP Pink on Saturday, August
12. The hardcore punk band contains several
of the hardest working musicians in Calgary, so
make sure you pick up a copy!
On August 24, check out one of the strongest offerings
of the month when Halifax crust punk band
Napalm Raid performs at the Palomino Smokehouse
& Bar. The band is touring in support of their
newest offering Wheel of War, and will be playing
alongside Enemies, Erector Set (new hardcore act
featuring members of PMMA, Empty Heads), and
Full Choke (new punk act featuring members of
Chieftain and Savage Streets).
At the end of the month, Vancouver’s proggy
sludge metal aficionados Anciients will be performing
at the Palomino Smokehouse & Bar. Head
to the bar on Wednesday, August 30 to see the
Season of Mist signees perform with Dead Quiet
and Denim Machine.
• Sarah Kitteringham
photo: Brett Olson
BEATROUTE • AUGUST 2017 | 45
It’s hard to think of an album in recent memory that
has garnered as much hatred before its release as
Arcade Fire’s Everything Now. Granted, the post-ironic
content skewering and self-aware media campaign
hasn’t been particularly enjoyable, but the band has
managed to enter a new level of internet infamy
located above Father John Misty, but below Azealia
Banks. While it may be en vogue to hate Arcade Fire’s
unaltered pretension, it’s hard to hear any reason for
such rage in the music alone.
With an oddly-indicative album cover that displays
a billboard of a neon-hued, desert mountain range
blocking the view of an actual mountain range,
Everything Now is a perfectly competent indie-pop
album that has been covered in a shroud of marketing
cynicism and content nausea. Luckily, if you can
manage to look past the billboards, you’ll find an
album that demonstrates that, even at their worst,
Arcade Fire are still capable of greatness.
Everything Now builds on Reflektor’s cold, synthheavy
sonic interiors, but opts to knock down the
warehouse walls, revealing wide open landscapes of
the American south. From New Orleans-style horn
stomps (“Chemistry”), to gritty, chugging synth pop
(“Creature Comfort” and “Electric Blue”), the band
has managed to cover a wide range of contemporary
pop sounds while still making them sound exactly
like Arcade Fire. Everything Now is an album that
sits alongside the anthemic bombast of The Suburbs,
the gothic dread of Neon Bible, and the slinky dance
punk disco of Reflektor.
Throughout its 45-minute runtime, Everything
Now shows a band that has a remarkable sense of
sonic identity, while simultaneously presenting themselves
as completely out of touch with broader pop
culture in 2017.
The result is an album that is often textbook Arcade
Fire: Anthemic, slightly cloying, and ultimately a little
heavy handed. Yet, where Everything Now feels different
than the band’s earlier work is that when the band
indulges its schmaltziest self, it pays off significantly
less than it used to. Credit it to the quality of their past
work that Everything Now feels like the least important
album in the band’s discography, even when they
seem to try and make it feel like the most.
That kind of self-reverence results in Win Butler
indulging some of his most groan-inducing lyrical
tendencies. On the twin tracks “Infinite Content” and
“Infinite_Content,” Butler’s subtle-as-a-hammer message
of internet content making everyone (content)
ed (see what he did there?) and bored doesn’t add
much to a discussion that has been going on since
the start of Facebook.
Elsewhere, “Creature Comfort” is marred by
awkward vocal cadences and ham-fisted self-mythology
(Assisted suicide / she dreams of dying all the
time / she told me she came so close / filled up the
bathtub and put on our first record), but is saved by
the fact that it’s flat out the best instrumental on the
record. Credit that to Portishead’s Geoff Barrow, who
co-produced the track alongside Pulp’s Steve Mackey
(who worked as producer on much of the album). It’s
an amazing instrumental that sounds like a chugging,
electro pop “Keep the Car Running.”
It’s telling that instead of coming off as a grand
treatise on internet culture and media saturation, the
lyrics of Everything Now end up sounding like the
mindless content the band presumably set out to
critique in the first place.
Luckily, the album sounds a lot better than it
reads. “Signs of Life” sounds like an Oingo Boingo
classic produced by Soulwax. The latter comparison
being especially apt for much of the album; a
hodgepodge of chintz reworked through kaleidoscopic
electronica. Blaring horns and the same disco-indebted
drums that appeared all over Reflektor
anchor the track in a way that conjures the image
of Oingo Boingo frontman Danny Elfman flashing a
trademark deranged smile.
“Chemistry” starts with a King Tubby-esque reggae
stomp before morphing into a Billy Squier guitar
track akin to “The Stroke” at the chorus. It’s among
the best tracks on the album, and instantly earns a
place alongside “Month of May” as one of Arcade
Fire’s most rock-centric moments.
The track also marks a shift in the album overall,
the computer-centric gloss of the first half of the
album fades away to reveal desert-folk landscapes
complete with an Americana twang that is a refreshing
look for the band.
Fortunately, for all its misgivings, Everything Now
does deliver with one of the most flat-out affecting
songs of Arcade Fire’s decade-plus career. Late-album
stunner, “We Don’t Deserve Love” is a gorgeous,
electro-twanging ballad that somehow combines a
Roland CR-78 drum machine with an Owen Pallett
string arrangement and lush, swelling pedal steel
courtesy Daniel Lanois. It’s a bright spot on an album
that has plenty of them, but still ends up feeling
• Jamie McNamara
illustration by Dylan Smith
46 | AUGUST 2017 • BEATROUTE
2017 appears to be the year that all of the indie rock heavy
hitters of the late aughts came back to the table. Painted Ruins
is Grizzly Bear’s fifth release, and in the five years since Shields
(2012), the band’s success has morphed into individual successes
for its members. As such, this new record feels like a reunion,
even if much of it was recorded without the band in the same
room as each other.
Since 2006’s Yellow House, Grizzly Bear has been a band
of competing frontmen, with Ed Droste’s languid moan and
backroom longings tying up half the songs, and Daniel Rossen’s
high-register ruminations rounding out the rest. Rossen’s work in
Department of Eagles is more restrained and affected than what
he does with Grizzly Bear, especially in his guitar playing, which is
less washed out in this record than in the last; sharply picked jazz
voicings in some tracks, acoustic guitar picking in others.
The two voices mesh best on “Mourning Sound,” where Ed
Droste’s beautifully pitched backing vocals can mope through
the verses and carry Rossen’s unsettled and haunting vocals in
the chorus. The rhythm here is simple, but pulsing, punctuated
by producer Chris Taylor’s ruthless bass guitar. The soaring synth
melody is the oddity of the song, but it’s wavering pitch is just
weird enough to keep it from being too strong of a hook.
The record features some beautiful instrumental interludes on
tracks like “Wasted Acres” and “Neighbors,” where strings and
woodwinds set a scene with a film-score inspired measure, but
this mostly only serves to space out the verse-chorus structure of
the songs. As a result, the record is a strong front to back listen,
with anticipation for the next built effectively into each song.
The most divergent moment comes on “Systole” where there is
a foray into falsetto on top of a thick synth drone and a clicky,
808-sounding acoustic drum pattern.
Despite their indie credibility and swath of imitators, Grizzly
Bear has never sounded contemporary. Their success is largely
attributable to their uniqueness and sheer virtuosity. This isn’t
psychedelic pop at its most complex, but almost certainly at its
most dignified. There is no wall of sound here, no undefinable
pitch effects or kilometers of reverb. Even the vocals are remarkably
clean on most tracks. This is indie music for people who
listen to jazz and classical, it doesn’t veer too far out of genre
to be inaccessible, but it’s musicianship and song-writing are
timeless and striking.
• Liam Prost
Kacy & Clayton
The Siren’s Song
New West Records
Following up an album which saw your band ascend to some
truly rarified air for a Western Canadian group might be daunting
for some, but Kacy & Clayton’s latest, The Siren’s Song, finds the
southwestern Saskatchewan duo not only meeting the promise
shown by 2015’s Strange Country, but exceeding it. Produced by
legendary Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy, The Siren’s Song sees Kacy
Lee Anderson and Clayton Linthicum continuing to expand their
sound, deftly combining the many strains of traditional acoustic
folk music with the sunny feel of ‘60s California folk and the lean
edge of ‘70s country rock. While Anderson and Linthicum have
often worked with sepia-painted vignettes of the past with cleverly
cloaked references to more modern times, The Siren’s Song
tends to do so a little more clearly, with a welcome transparency.
The first single, “The Light Of Day,” kicks off the record with a
gentle pull in the beat and a tasty, twanging riff from Linthicum.
Anderson sweeps in, recounting the narrative of a woman finding
an old photo of happier times in the bottom of a drawer, before
the chorus drops with a timeless lament in which it’s often “proper”
to keep quiet and not be misrepresented by other people’s
perceptions of what they have to say. It would be easy to miss that
conclusion, as catchy as the hook is and in Anderson’s melodic
dexterity, bathing her lines with an upbeat melancholy that underscores
the graceful notion of “keep your thoughts to yourself and
you’ll be fine.” Linthicum lays down a slick fingerpicked acoustic
lead over the electric rhythm guitar, a unique arrangement choice
that complements the number with assured subtlety.
“Just Like A Summer Cloud” leads off in a similar fashion,
further establishing the ensemble-based direction and sonic vibe
of the record. Linthicum’s slinky bends swirl with tremolo and
a subtle piano chording low notes through the changes, while
Anderson’s pining tale of a relationship of convenience hinges on
lines like, “miles they lie between our love, it’s my worst enemy,
but I think it sets you free to make the rounds and do the girls
The acoustic folk of the set is a persistent reminder of the
duo’s beginnings, and of their near encyclopedic knowledge of
traditional styles; often, cuts like “Cannery Row,” “Go On And
Leave Me,” feel like they could have been passed down over
Appalachian generations, updated with the locked-in-yet-relaxed
rhythm section work of Shuyler Jansen and Mike Silverman.
Tweedy wisely resists throwing all the bells and whistles onto the
production and arrangements of The Siren’s Song, giving the band
a lean, live sound, with Anderson and Linthicum adding their own
fiddle and pedal steel parts sparingly. The Siren’s Song crackles with
smart vocal and instrumental hooks and the classic warmth of its
influences, firmly establishing Kacy & Clayton as one of Canada’s
most tuneful and musically engaging folk rock groups.
• Mike Dunn
Need to Feel Your Love
Wilsuns Recording Company
After three noteworthy EPs (Compilation I, II, III), Sheer Mag’s
first official full-length has been unleashed on the world. It
lacks the grittiness and DIY ethic that made their earlier work
so enthralling, but is chock full of ‘70s power pop and political
overtones that the band’s fans have come to love. Each song
maintains that the personal is political, making for a worthwhile
listen from start to finish.
Singer Tina Halladay’s voice is equal parts Poly Styrene, Tina
Turner, and Cherie Currie. It is gritty, commanding, and takes
no shit. Unfortunately, she isn’t able to polish the rough edges
enough to garner more widespread attention. When she emotes
too personally, such as on slow burner “Milk and Honey,” it can
come across disingenuous or even hokey. She and the rest of
Sheer Mag aren’t afraid of their feelings, though. Each song feels
punk and radical because of their body and sex-positive themes.
This is also kind of brilliant, considering the rampant misogyny,
homophobia, and racism of acts who might have loosely
inspired their protometal sound (Think Kiss or Black Sabbath).
The juxtaposition is unexpected and makes the album refreshing,
where most new releases from the aforementioned bands can
feel contrived. Midway through the album, “Suffer Me” offers an
inspired-account of the 1969 Stonewall Riots, where black and
Latina trans women dared to fight back against police brutality.
After the riot is over, Halladay laments, “…And there was one less
boot, pressing down on one less throat.” Despite reflecting on
the past, with Trump’s Ban on trans people in the military and
continued cuts to healthcare, it feels particularly relevant.
Throughout the album, Sheer Mag are most successful when
they’re subverting the protometal/power pop genre they draw
inspiration from. Whether that’s employing ooey-gooey, funk-infused
guitars (as on “Need to Feel Your Love”), or inciting a hard
rock disco rampage (as on “Just Can’t Get Enough). Halladay
sings with such admiration on the latter that you can’t help
but want to get up, jump around, and shout your love from a
But, for all of the album’s highs, there are lows and they often
entertain the genre’s past clichés, leading to songs that border
on cringe worthy. “Meet me on the Streets,” is a call to action
against police brutality, but the reliance on a too-long and
too-repetitious lick makes the song teeter with familiarity and
platitude. Overall, there’s not enough variance from the band’s
earlier work to make for a thrilling full-length, but there are noteworthy
singles that shine through.
• Trent Warner
BEATROUTE • AUGUST 2017 | 47
There’s a sense of ambition and experimentation
rarely heard in Canadian commercial country on
Blake Berglund’s fifth full-length release, Realms.
Keying in on the spaced-out psychedelia of Sturgill
Simpson’s Metamodern Sounds in Country Music
as a touchstone, Berglund has crafted an album,
rather than yet another collection of “potential radio
singles.” Its tone is in lock step with the punchiness
of commercial radio, with a tip of the chapeau
to ‘90s artists like George Strait, Alan Jackson, and
Vince Gill, while the steel and organ arrangements
lead to more interstellar reaches.
The album leads with an introduction of the
title track, a sweeping piano-based ballad bathed
in lowdown Telecaster licks and church-y steel.
From his first line, “Behold the draping cosmic veil,
cloaking which we cannot see,” Berglund’s intent to
change the conversation is clear. “Pretty Good Guy”
is a straight up, four-on-the-floor country rocker,
driven by Bryce Lewis’ flashing Tele boogie riff and
the driving rhythm section of drummer Steve Leidal
and bass player Shawn Patton. That vibe continues
on “Moose Mountain;” its West Texas disco groove
nodding to the ever-looming influence of Waylon
Jennings, while the lyrics do away with the traditional
cowboy tropes of whiskey and coffee in favour of
well-rolled doobie on horseback.
Too often, Canadian country music that has the
potential to see the light above the underground
is devoid of experimentation, relying on tried-andtrue
staples of currency in the genre. Berglund’s
Realms is better than that; it is absolutely current
country music, though the constraints of genre
classification might give it a different label. The
album is imbued with heart, musicianship, and a
fearlessness that deserves to have an impact on
the national stage.
In short, it’s the most ambitious Canadian
country record of 2017, and should certainly be
regarded as one of the best. The true belief in
country music itself, and the scope and experimentation
of Realms ought to be a step forward
for a style that has too long been content to
peddle the easiest possible formula to its audience,
and help in bringing this important popular music
form back up from the depths of depravity and
• Mike Dunn
Lana Del Rey
Lust for Life
On a fourth studio album, most artists would
reinvent themselves in some small, noticeable way;
reveal a new look, change up their sound, or work
with a new team. With Lust for Life, Lana Del Rey is
back with more of the same, though decidedly. She
knows herself and for her, that’s enough.
Her output is constant – always pushing her
exploration of the gloomy glamour of California
dreaming and the dredges of American melancholia.
Oddly, on the album’s cover she is sunny-eyed
and smiling, with daffodils in her hair, embodying
the eponymous ‘60s flower-child. In the 1967 essay,
Slouching Towards Bethlehem, writer Joan Didion
integrated herself within a group of San Francisco’s
‘hippies,’ (the people Lana often embodies) finding a
generation lost and in search of something greater,
though none could really define ‘what.’ Lana finds
herself in a similar position throughout Lust for Life.
Standouts include “Summer Bummer” featuring
A$AP Rocky and Playboy Carti, where Lana is
at her most Lana – “wrapping you up in [her]
daisy chains” atop a trap beat and her signature
withdrawn coos. As an antithesis to her hip-hop
lenience, she offers “Beautiful People Beautiful
Problems,” featuring Stevie Nicks, which is an
inspired-‘60s girl group song for two artists that
could not offer better synthesis. The song is setting
aside one’s own day-to-day distractions and seeing
your larger connection to the world. Sadly, Lana
offers no solutions, just the lamentation “We gotta
try every day and night.”
Lust for Life is an album to make one feel less
alone, though it doesn’t bring any strong realizations
about life itself, just more questions.
• Trent Warner
It’s rare that you see a debut LP so ambitious.
Sharing a label with Bon Iver, S. Carey, and Volcano
Choir, Australian songwriter Sophie Payten shares
many a production quirk with her label-mates.
Ample use of auto-tune, soft horns and quirky
samples that sound almost directly lifted from the
most recent Bon Iver release layer Gordi’s effervescent
Every song is treated very specifically, without
a coherent set of instrumentation or production
style linking the tracks. Even Payten’s rippling
and raw vocal delivery, which sits at the centre
of the mix on almost every song, varies heavily in
terms of production effect, sometimes pitched,
sometimes doubled, often with a hefty dose of
reverb. It hits violently on tracks like “Aeon,” and
gently on moments like the closer, “Something Like
This.” This is a studio record through and through,
with very little indication of how it might present
live. Tracks like the single “Heaven I Know” and
opener “Long Way” present strongly as headphone
experiences, rewardingly close listens with tiny
The highlight here is the sparse “I’m Done,”
featuring a subtle guest appearance by S. Carey.
Led with a simple guitar pattern, her songwriting
comes through most strongly, concisely laying out
an optimistic narrative about clearly bookmarking
Reservoir is dense and of-the-moment, a layered
and temperate piece of work that will probably
not be reproduced in either her live performances
or future recordings. That said, it’s a tremendously
well put together and impressive debut work.
• Liam Prost
is not, producing some of the best material in his
At first, the conversational style of rapping on
this album seems like a questionable choice for
someone who gave us classics like “Dead Presidents”
and “Empire State of Mind,” but after a few
listens everything clicks. No I.D. handles production
duties, providing Carter with the soulful backdrop
he needs at this point in his career. There are
no forced attempts of trying to copy the trap-infused
hip-hop dominating radio waves, opting for
timeless samples and originality instead.
Lyrically, JAY-Z seasons his rhymes with fresh
references of events that occurred a few days before
the album dropped. Whether he recorded this
whole thing recently, or if it was only a few bars, is
irrelevant because the quality speaks for itself. 4:44
deals with themes of betrayal, family, lust and, of
course, wealth, but this time around it feels genuine.
Every song delivers an important message that
doesn’t diminish in value with each consecutive
listen. Killing JAY-Z might be the smartest business
move Shawn Carter has made in recent memory,
paving the way for many more to come. After all,
he’s not a businessman, he’s a business, man.
• Paul McAleer
Mark Kozelek & Sean Yeaton
For a well-known grump, Mark Kozelek (Red House
Painters, Sun Kil Moon) certainly collaborates a lot.
The man is nothing if not prolific, his solo records
and under the Sun Kil Moon moniker are often
seriously long and verbose, and so it makes sense
that he would want to put out some spoken word.
Don’t mistake this, Yellow Kitchen, his first collaboration
with Parquet Courts’ bassist Sean Yeaton,
is not music. Kozelek does “sing” on a few tracks
overtop of some light woodwinds, or quietly mixed
guitars and drums, but it’s hardly in a conventionally
musical manner. The music is somewhat sparse, but
experimental, and often goes in several different
directions over the course of a single track.
The tracks themselves and extremely honest
and gruff, which is roughly on par for Kozelek,
but in this context the humour comes out more
strongly than in his otherwise beautiful folk songs.
On “Somebody’s Favorite Song,” Kozelek describes
a totally innocuous and awkward conversation
about buying vitamin D at a drug store and having
to explain to the clerk why he needs it.
This record is required listening for the Mark Kozelek
completionist, but it’s mostly just a strange
distraction, a fun thing to smile about on the bus
on your way to serve our corporate overlords.
• Liam Prost
If It’s Alright with You – The Songs of Gene MacLellan
True North Records
JAY-Z announced 4:44 with clarification on how
his rapper alias is stylised, but by the end of the
opening track, it is clear this new album is about
dissecting what the name represents. The name
has brought him unparalleled success and, at
times, misfortune. 4:44 is a study of what makes
JAY-Z one of rap’s legendary figures, but it is perhaps
the first album told through the perspective
of Shawn Carter, a human no different from the
rest of us. It is everything Magna Carta Holy Grail
Catherine MacLellan has been overfilling her father’s
shoes for a long time now, but that doesn’t stop every
bio and review written about her from referencing
her lineage. Gene MacLellan is Canadian royalty,
having written songs recorded by Elvis, Joan Baez,
and Bing Crosby. His daughter is every bit as good a
songwriter, having picked up a JUNO for her most
recent full-length The Raven’s Sun (2014).
Gene’s songwriting is decidedly more traditional
than Catherine’s, and she effectively softens songs like
“Biding My Time” with a clean and unaccented de-
48 | AUGUST 2017 • BEATROUTE
livery. The record is nicely paced with mostly heartfelt
numbers, but plenty of driving moments with drums
and electric guitars to keep the listening experience
The centrepiece of the record is undoubtedly
Gene’s most famous song, “Snowbird” as made
famous by Anne Murray. Catherine’s version is
reserved, softly performed solo on electric piano,
elongated with a verse only ever recorded by Gene. It’s
immediate and resonant, heartbreaking even, with the
allegory of the winter snowbird as the forever-feeling
periods of grief, of untrue love, or of loss.
At 13 tracks it’s a good value record, and as a tribute
album, it’s a reverent and polished effort.
• Liam Prost
When bands reunite for a “comeback” album, the
end result is often shallow compared to their earlier
work, grasping at former greatness to no avail. Life
will take unused passion and ruin it, chewing it up
and regurgitating an uninspired mess in its place.
The new Rainer Maria record proves otherwise,
establishing the urgency of an origin story, a youthful
rock band with genuine enthusiasm and emotion
frothing from the mouth.
Rainer Maria started out in 1995, becoming an
influential emo band until their hiatus in 2006. With
dual vocalists singing their hearts out over pounding,
guitar-driven melodies, the band’s earlier work is raw
in every sense of the word. Although the production
and mixing of S/T sounds refined and clean compared
to what we’re used to, Rainer Maria is still jagged and
imperfect, bleeding beauty louder than ever before.
Caithlin De Marrais handles the majority of vocal
duties, howling out resentful lyrics over slower and
frantic moments alike. The three band members are
synched up throughout the entire project, combining
for an explosive sound ready for a stadium. Tonally,
the album is cohesive, leaving a small desire for the
band to branch out, but it is also dense with intricacy
demanding more than one or two listens.
S/T feels like a natural progression of Rainer Maria’s
2006 Catastrophe Keeps Us Together, erasing the time
between and preparing us for whatever comes next.
• Paul McAleer
respectfulchild is the instrumental violin project of
Gan from Saskatoon’s Treaty 6 Territory. Their music
is electronic in nature, through the use of loop pedals
and abstract sounds, while being acoustically created,
building experimental ambient soundscapes that are
as hallucinatory as they are heavenly.
::searching:: is respectfulchild’s debut full-length
album, meticulously crafted with feelings of curiosity,
discomfort, contemplation, relief, and tension,
that has the ability to invoke these feelings in the
listener. It’s an exploration into the thoughts and
anxieties that Gan toys with daily, opening more
questions than it can answer, falling somewhere
between searching and finding.
The album says so much, without a single word.
Layers and loops overlap and intertwine, all one
humble human’s intricate creation, to crescendo at
peaks with the power to remind us of emotions we
thought we’d forgotten. Their utilization of a minimal
set-up focuses attention on the ebb and flow of their
bubbling rhythms and hypnotic textures, imbued
with little details that seem to come from outside of
the album itself.
respectfulchild’s classical training, which is evident
through the complexity of each song, is paired with
a freedom to explore new sounds foreign to even the
trained ear, that ignite a fire of curiosity and mystery.
With a sound that has been likened to artists such
as Brian Eno, Nils Frahm, and Owen Pallett, one can
also not resist the comparison to fellow rising star and
• Courtney Faulkner
It’s refreshing to hear the added depth on Shooting
Guns’ latest, Flavour Country. Their sound has
expanded somewhat, featuring more complex
arrangements than those on Born To Deal In Magic:
1952-1976, and 2013’s Brotherhood Of The Ram. Both
were marked by their ability to hypnotize through singular
riffs, with massive harmonic swells of keyboard,
synth, and guitar, over repeated grooves that often
lulled their listeners into a trance.
“Ride Free” is the kind of hot rod, barreling down
the 3AM highway hard rock that fans have come to
expect, that unison chaos of the massive riffs, augmented
by waves of synth swells and a Keith Moon
free-for-all driving the beat. The lead single, “French
Safe” drops in next, its proto-punk mayhem like a
rocket ship from the downbeat. “Simian Shelf” is classic
Shooting Guns at a slower, cleaner pace, the kind of
psych that might compel someone to stare into a fire
for a prolonged period.
Overall, Flavour Country sees Shooting Guns growing
their dynamic reach while never abandoning their
distinctive, cinematic heavy-psych sound.
• Mike Dunn
New Damage Records
Silverstein is a rare example of a Canadian hardcore
band that has never seemed to stop their momentum.
While others peaked and faded, Silverstein
continues to release solid albums quite regularly.
Dead Reflection is the latest in their long line of releases,
and it certainly delivers their brand of melodic
hardcore tunes. Silverstein is defined largely by the
way they switch from heavy-as-hell riffage to light-asa-feather
crooning, and that duality is again present
on Dead Reflection. This record seems to lean more
heavily to the cleaner side of things, though, with a
clear majority of toned-down ballads.
Longtime fans will find Dead Reflection feeling very
familiar. The record is not a reinvention of their sound
or a concept album in the way 2009’s A Shipwreck in
the Sand might be considered. This is sort of a positive
and negative of the release. It certainly does not alienate
their core audience. But, at the same time, perhaps
a little more experimentation could have given the
release a few more “wow” moments as new sounds
unfolded from a familiar name.
Lyrically, the album focuses relationships… mostly
failed ones. While there are potentially limitless ways
to frame this topic through music, it’s been explored
so deeply by the group that some fresh songwriting
ground would have really been welcome on this
record. This is not to say the songs are written poorly:
they are very tight, well produced, and well written.
It’s just that thematically they are eerily similar to so
much of their previous music.
• Jodi Brak
Three years removed from his last solo release,
2014’s Enter the Slasher House, Animal Collective’s
Avey Tare has returned with Eucalyptus, a sunset
dreamscape that sounds like a hallucinogenic trip
put to wax. While this may be an Avey Tare solo
album, he’s enlisted the help of an 11-member
band, featuring Angel Deradoorian (who also played
in Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks), Jessika Kenney, and
Eyvind Kang. The massive band results in an album
full of seemingly-infinitely sustaining guitar strings,
sampled sounds and machinery that can be hard to
identify. Altogether, Eucalyptus yanks you deeper
into its haunting lull.
Lyrically, Tare fills the album with his perspectives
on the day-to-day, and the societal constructs we all
live in. Yet, Avey Tare’s music is about much more
than the lyrics, his vocal talent is bolstered by layered
production. Eucalyptus displays Tare’s ability to confuse,
yet still sooth the listener by anchoring his calm
voice with digital percussion.
Eucalyptus plays like a cold margarita in your hand
while sizzling warm sand nests between your toes. It’s
sweet and relaxing in a way that few modern albums
achieve. This is an album for a long drive in the sun, an
afternoon spent in a hammock, or whatever relaxes
you in times of confusion and stress.
• Keeghan Rouleau
Round 4 Records
If folks like Drake, the Weeknd, and PartyNextDoor
harkened the beginning of the ‘alternative R&B’
sound as it would become known out of Toronto,
there’s a new generation currently active, boiling to
the surface. One of these acts, Jessie Reyez, is already
making waves wider than herself, but perhaps the
most interesting of them all is Unbuttoned. On their
latest, Liquid, they take experimental electronic
R&B as far as it can go, drawing from elements as far
reaching as shoegaze.
Moments of jazz-style improvisation appear
throughout the album, most notably on “Catch Me
I’m Falling” and “Serene.” It’s clear that the musicians
behind Unbuttoned know exactly what they’re doing,
and experimentation is a part of their creative process.
On the flip side, they sound just as at-ease with a
Smiths-style guitar riff, as on “Soft Thing.”
Although she’s not always obviously present, colead
vocalist Kamila Apong’s influence comes through
– whether she’s singing a chorus or solely providing a
harmonic answer to other vocalist Casey MQ’s folkier
drawl. Their balance is best displayed on “Oceans,
Cliffs, & Green Hills,” an adventurous rock song, while
she shines alone on “Womxn Cry,” a song she has
described as “what it sounds like to fall back in love
“Womxn Cry” is also the most electronic and highly
conceptual song on the album— one should watch
the music video for a larger understanding. Apong’s
voice is omnipresent, stretching itself and showcasing
its strength, though the words are often distorted or
unintelligible, only coming through the dissonance
enough to highlight key phrases, such as “when your
back is weary/ I will lie you down.”
The entire album acts as a reflection on self-care,
vulnerability, and outward displays of softness. They
employ concepts from nature, biology, and religion to
explore and define these themes.
• Trent Warner
BEATROUTE • AUGUST 2017 | 49
CALGARY FOLK MUSIC FESTIVAL
THURSDAY, JULY 27
For outsiders, the general consensus with folk music is kind of a singer-songwriter
vibe. A sole musician with an acoustic guitar or banjo
playing pleasing but not altogether challenging music. Calgary Folk
Music Festival has returned for another year of turning that preconceived
notion on its head, really getting to the heart of what the term
“folk” encompasses, with all its rich cultural and community building
The sign, normally announcing how much time a band has left,
just read, “PLAY AS LONG AS YOU WANT” in bold lettering. Holy
Fuck prevented a riot by extending their show by a half hour, and
shepherded the audience through power outages, an impromptu
workshop and hot frenzied dancing, breaking only for fear of killing
us all. The inexhaustible Brian Borcherdt at one point stuck a whole
microphone in his mouth to hit some synths with both hands,
building up walls of sound and mincing up everyone’s energy
• Arielle Lessard
Photo: Jodi Brak
Leif Vollebekk received a sweaty standing ovation after his serene performance.
The synesthete worked a steady hand on ballads and songs for a
tranquil crowd to reflect on. Humble lyrics explored personal tales as he
demonstrated a zigzagging control of both keys and guitar. Accompanied
by bass and drums, the set produced speckles of contrast and created
a space that seemed just right at National Stage for the first evening
of a long weekend. He thinks he did alright, modestly commenting that
“there were a lot of chords in that song, I think we got most of them.”
• Arielle Lessard
COEUR DE PIRATE
Montreal act Coeur de Pirate playfully took the Folk Fest stage in a
charming storm of lovely melodies and honest vulnerability. Beatrice
Martin, the French-Canadian songwriter, enraptured the crowd with
her petite yet powerful voice and masterful piano playing, taking full
advantage of the spotlight she was under and switching fluidly between
French and English while backed by a five-piece band. Coeur de Pirate’s
playful yet emotional songs maintained a balanced arrangement of poppy
folk, complete with hooks and and choruses, as well as a passionate
performance that will stick out in Folk Festers’ minds for the weekend to
Photo: Jarrett Edmund
Photo: Michael Grondin
BILLY BRAGG and JOE HENRY
Witty Billy Bragg elicited a laugh from the Main Stage on Thursday when
he cracked that it is always a good thing to play the first night of the
Calgary Folk Music Festival. “The toilets are so clean,” he joked. That might
have been the only bit of levity during an evening that saw Bragg and Joe
Henry burrow into a trove of American songs forged on the road, along
railway tracks and in old train stations. The earnest duo shared acoustic
guitar duties, and Henry tickled a piano at one point, as their strong voices
painted images of hard workin’ folks just trying to get ahead. It was a
concert light on musical bombast but big on rhetorical flourish. Perhaps
Henry set the stage for the weekend when he noted, “The folk tradition is
not a dead language.”
• Ian Tennant
FRIDAY, JULY 28
THE CACTUS BLOSSOMS
“My mom would like this band.” So said a friend about The Cactus Blossoms
as we departed the Rigstar Stage around happy hour on Friday. Not
that moms don’t have good taste, she was just continuing a discussion.
While the harmonies of Bros. Jack Torrey and Page Burkum were delicious
and the five-piece band was on point, the overall tempo lacked a little,
well, caliente. They perfectly executed a country shuffle, a loping folk blues
ride and dark tones echoing their Twin Peaks fame. Yet a cover of one of
their fave “brother bands” — likely
a cheeky reference to always being
compared to the Everly Brothers — was
The Kinks’ “Who’ll Be The Last In Line,”
an inspiring choice but the execution
lacked bite. Then again, another friend,
also musically inclined, absolutely loved
The Cactus Blossoms.
• Ian Tennant
Rhythmic beats, soulful blues guitar,
subtle hints of keys and a voice to rival
the best blues singers out there: Michael
Kiwanuka and his band packed the Folk
Fest Main Stage with a crowd of eager
dancers swaying along to the melodies
ringing out across Prince’s Island. Their
tunes ranged from huge, big-band style
tracks with twin drummers pounding
away to far more subtle, slow paced
melodies leading along soft vocals.
Definitely one for the dancers, as the
band features two drummers and they
make full use of both of them.
SATURDAY, JULY 29
Betty Bonifassi put on a meaningful, integrative show with an
attention to detail that shined hard. Having paid close attention
to slang, accent and pronunciation in her most recent work, she
brought this with fire to the stage. She’s a master at filling her voice
with intonation and passion, matched only by her personality’s
vivaciousness. She dug in her heels and drove the resiliency of slave
songs forward with a tincture of electro and rock solos. Her contralto
could be heard all the way to the fence, where people lined
in the shade to hear her set. A breath in from her alone set a strong
tone – stirring, on her breaths out, strings of dancers.
• Arielle Lessard
DAVE and PHIL ALVIN
Dave Alvin, Phil Alvin and The Guilty Ones had this tired camper
at hello. The crowd gathered before the Main Stage and appeared
to need a jolt after a long, hot day. The Alvins and their crackerjack
band delivered in spades. Backed by the incomparable Lisa Pankratz
on drums, Canadian Brad Fordham on bass and Chris “All killer,
no filler” Miller on the telecaster, the Alvins cruised through Big Bill
Broonzy covers and hits from the brothers’ days as The Blasters like
“Border Radio,” “Jubilee Train” and “Marie, Marie” – an absolute
rocker of a closer that brought the tarpists to their feet. While it
seemed concerning that Phil, who nearly died in 2012, stood still
throughout the entire set, he nonetheless delivered crisp, strong
vocals and sweet harmonica on time and with punch, especially on
a cover of James Brown’s “Please, Please, Please.” That sent chills up
and down the spine. A tight and epic version of Dave Alvin’s solo
effort “Dry River” also hit the sweet spot, showing once again that
a sure-fire way to get a Folk Fest crowd jumping is to unleash roots
rockers extraordinaire like the Alvin brothers and The Guilty Ones.
• Ian Tennant
Photo: Jodi Brak
BEATROUTE • AUGUST 2017 | 51
Photo: Christine Leonard
The BIG Slam
Chixdiggit, High Kicks, Napalmpom, Chron Goblin,
All Hands On Jane
National on 8th
July 15, 2017
Making good on their promise to celebrate the Calgary’s music scene
all year-round, the crew behind the BIG Winter Classic shed their fur
coats in favour of white tank-tops and Daisy-Duke shorts on this hot
Stampede Saturday to present The BIG Slam. Who knew that the old
Scotia Centre you used to gravitate towards as a teenager now has a
whole new reason to loiter in The Core after dark? The National on
8th may have a bustling third floor bar and restaurant, but it’s the
decked-out patio, yet another floor above, that was the place to be.
Brimming to capacity and overflowing with that famous spirit of
western hospitality, the speakeasy rooftop party was lit for a skate and
surf-themed rock ‘n’ roll rodeo of its own. Rip curl riders rolled on the
mercifully-sportsball-free flatscreens about the venue, as the multiple
bars serviced a lively mishmash of patrons (including a scene-stealing
streaker). Lured by the bellicose whiskey-primed blues of All Hands on
Jane, the crowd tripped hard on sonic graffiti of resident delinquents
Chron Goblin, who demonstrated that you don’t require drifting surf
or snow to execute a supreme frontside carve. Scooping up the well-lubricated
(read: turbo-drunk) audience’s attention, Danny Vacon’s
HighKicks delivered a roundhouse to the head that left the room
quaking and blissfully disoriented. Enter Chixdiggit, who dumped a
whole backpack of memories onto the stage; Ally Sheedy style. Suds
and silly songs flowed freely into the night air over Stephen Avenue,
as the outfit’s rambunctious pop-punk rhythms provided a display of
quintessentially Calgarian fireworks.
You can check out the weekly mixtapes of tunage from the folks at
BIG here: http://www.bigwinterclassic.com/blog/vol11
• Christine Leonard
52 | AUGUST 2017 • BEATROUTE
The Marquee Beer Market & Stage- Calgary, AB
July 18 , 2017
Living proof that fans of the legendary hardcore punk act the
Melvins are not easily deterred, a milling mass of avid Ozmatics,
braved a TSA-calibre search and seizure line to bask in the trio’s
radioactive glow on a sluggish weeknight. Robed in Snuggie-like
splendor, King Buzzo took to the reddened stage, along with
fur-vested bassist Steven Shane McDonald (known for his contributions
to of Redd Kross, Tenacious D, Off!, Green and Yellow
TV, and The SMG) and, of course, celebrated percussionist
Dale Crover (Acid King, Altamont, Hank Williams III, Fantômas,
Shrinebuilder, Crystal Fairy, et al.).
Presiding over the congregation in his Illuminati “dress”,
Buzz powered through a battery of broad-shouldered songs,
occasionally throwing off beads of sweat and loose wires from his
salt-&-pepper Brillo-fro. According to the cromulent frontman,
his seamstress, Rebecca Sevrin of the feminist punk band Frightwig,
followed a specific request that his live performance garb be
“Something that looks relatively not normal.”
Athletic as ever, a camera-shy Crover crouched behind his
drumkit, peering out at the crowd between syncopated surges.
Meanwhile, McDonald was riding easy, landing heavy and generally
getting in the mood. His brunette locks flew like a freakflag,
as he channeled a heady amalgam of Geddy Lee and Lorax. It was
evident that three-piece was still building on the chemistry they
began to formulate while recording four songs for the Melvins’
War Pussy EP (which later surfaced on the album Basses Loaded).
Justifiably, confident in their refurbished line-up the Melvins,
who’d just released their first double-album, A Walk with Love
& Death, earlier in the month offered up an impressive body of
sludgy yet sophisticated material. The veteran’s Tuesday-night
stroll with destiny introduced new passages through road-tested
staples in order to devise a rock solid set that rarely rested and
never deviated from its prescribed course. Although, those who
were intelligent enough to make the pilgrimage to Edmonton for
the previous night’s mission reported that Shelbyville-North was
treated to an extra 14-minutes of the Melvins’ holy porch-treatments.
Not that we’re counting. Much.
• Christine Leonard
Photo: Christine Leonard
Festival d’ete , Quebec City
July 13, 2017
A sea of sparkling little red lights radiated from LED
badges of 120,000 strong spread across the mighty
Plains of Abraham and up around the hills that
enclosed the enormous amphitheater. When Pete
Townshend’s chord-crunching volley kicks off “I Can’t
Explain”, The Who’s blissful embrace of teenage love,
the stage exploded in its own blaze of red light and
white heat surging with the same joyous rush as it did
in 1965, or when you first heard it.
That’s the beauty of The Who: incredibly great
songs that you can’t explain how they endure the test
of time, generations and massive audiences without
losing one shred of intimacy and meaningfulness.
Then again, The Who pioneered taking three ferocious
chords that created chaos in a 100 seat pub, unleashed
the same onslaught at Woodstock then went to conquer
America’s sports arenas and stadiums.
As they marched through hit after hit, Quebec City
willfully succumbed to Townsend’s windmill blows and
Daltrey’s clenched-fist wails. No one expects them to
be the fierce force they once were 50 years in, but The
Who’s command is uncompromising — they play it
like they mean it, and they meant it, absolutely. A large
part of their impressive delivery is Zak Starkey, who’s
tenure over the last decade has propelled him into
a well-deserved, star-studded member of the band.
Starkey’s style doesn’t resemble Keith Moon’s staggered
assaults, his playing flows with far more finesse and
stylized rhythms but with the same, if not greater,
intensity. Starkey is The Who’s bombastic blast.
What’s not so bombastic, but a bit of a nosedive
is when they introduce “Eminence Front” right after
“Love, Reign O’er Me”. It would be better to include
material from one of Townshend’s solo albums than to
get bogged down in The Who’s nowhereland. Fortunately
it doesn’t last long as they pull out of the tailspin
and head soaring across the Plains of Abraham with
“Pinball Wizard”, “See Me, Feel Me”, Baba O’Reily” and
then the grand finale, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, that
felt like an invading army, the British coming all over
again... Quebec City happily surrendered.
• B. Simm
BEATROUTE • AUGUST 2017 | 53
My wife has been seriously ill for three years, and I have been her sole
caregiver. The doctors here weren’t getting the job done, so we made the
difficult decision for her to move 2,000 miles away to start over and be
near her family. Our sex life has been nonexistent since she became ill.
She offered me a “hall pass” with two rules: (1) It couldn’t be anyone I
worked with and (2) she didn’t want to know about it. She offered multiple
times, but I was taking care of her 24/7 and never used it. I started to
consider using it after she moved. But I didn’t want to just find some random
person on Tinder. You see, I am a cross-dresser. My wife knows. She’s
never seen me dressed and isn’t interested in knowing more about it. So
instead of paying for a traditional escort, I found someone who would
dress me, do my makeup, go out to dinner with me, but no sex. We met
three times. However, one time I did hire a trans woman who dressed
me and we did have sex. Obviously, I had to lie at times about where I
was when I was using my hall pass, but I considered it a white lie to meet
Rule #2. But my wife flew home unannounced to get her things (with
her ex-husband along to help) and found my clothes out and quickly got
out of me what I had done. She was beyond pissed. She says I had a hall
pass for sex but not cross-dressing. She belittled me for the cross-dressing
and said the sex was supposed to be a one-and-done thing. She knew I
was a cross-dresser, and I derived more pleasure from this cross-dressing
experience than having anonymous sex with an escort. My questions: Did
I violate the hall pass? Was I wrong to cross-dress?
— Dude Relishing Erotic Sexcapades Suddenly Entertaining Divorce
P.S. I am quite convincing when dressed and blend well in public.
Your wife went home to get well and “start over.” And it sounds like
she got well—at least well enough to fly—and started over with her
I don’t think you were wrong to cross-dress, DRESSED, and if you
violated that hall pass, it was only because your soon-to-be-ex-wife
didn’t share all the rules with you until after you used it. It looks like
a setup to me. Your soon-to-be-ex-wife gave you permission to fuck
someone else—permission that came with rules that were disclosed
and secret bylaws and codicils that were not—because, consciously or
subconsciously, she wanted to catch you doing it wrong (in your case,
DRESSED, doing it more than once, cross-dressing when you did it,
etc.). Because now she can divorce you with a clear conscience, since
she’s not to blame for the split—you and your dick and your dresses
are to blame.
You might want to brace yourself for some hardcore blaming and
kink-shaming, DRESSED, and for the very real possibility she’ll out
you as a cheat and a cross-dresser to family and friends. But however
the divorce plays out—and here’s hoping it doesn’t get ugly—at
least you’ll soon be free to find a partner you don’t have to hide your
I’m a 22-year-old nonbinary person and I’m debating whether to come
out to my father as nonbinary. Complicating things is the fact that
I tried to come out to him at 18 back when I thought I was “only” a
hetero-leaning bi cross-dresser. He did not take the news well. Today
we don’t talk about it, and I think he pretends it never happened. I’m
wanting to move toward living in a less-gender-conforming way—including
changing my name—and am considering making a second
attempt. Pros: not feeling I like I’m hiding who I am, maybe I get him off
my back about kids, being able to be out on Facebook. Cons: screaming
matches, strong possibility of being disowned and losing the modest
amount of financial support I get from him, small possibility of him
telling my mom (they’re divorced). Any advice?
— One Foot Out
What’s more important to you, OFO, living authentically or living off
your dad? If being your authentic self means giving up the money
he sends you and you don’t desperately need his money, the choice
is obvious. But if his money is all that stands between you and gender-nonconforming
homelessness, you might want to think through
your options, the risks and the rewards, before going nonbinary
official on Facebook.
I’m a 25-year-old man who is mostly interested in women but I like to
mess around with men sometimes. I also love wearing high heels and
makeup—not to “pass,” but just because I love it. Most women seem
to be instantly turned off by these two things. I usually do very well
with women, but they bolt when I tell them, and some have been quite
hurtful. My family is very understanding about the high heels and my
sexuality—even my father—but the average woman doesn’t seem to
like it when I do something that they deem “theirs.” Which is so unfair.
Women can do anything they please—wear pants if they like, have
same-sex experiences—but I must submit or face the life of an outcast.
Any advice on how to deal with this while also dealing with the bitterness
and envy I feel?
— Enraging Gender And Double Standards
Let’s start with those feelings of envy, shall we? While it’s true that
women can wear pantsuits without causing alarm (or winning the
White House), and while it’s also true that women can have same-sex
experiences without freaking out the men in their lives (because
straight men are likelier to be aroused than repulsed), women’s
choices and their bodies are subjected to much more scrutiny, control,
and violence than our male bodies are, EGADS. Until politicians
legislate against your right to control your own body (and wear your
own heels), you can note the few areas where women enjoy more
latitude than men, but you aren’t allowed to bitch about them.
And this should put your pain in perspective: According to a new
report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more
than half the women murdered in the United States every year—55
percent—are killed by their husbands, boyfriends, or exes. It sucks to
be dumped for your sexual orientation or gender expression, I know.
And people kink-shaming is more painful than non-kinksters realize.
But none of your exes have stalked and murdered you.
Now the good news: There are women out there who dig men
in high heels, there are women out there into bi guys, and there is
a significant overlap between those two groups of women. If you
succumb to bitterness at your young age because you’ve been
dumped a few times—if you despise all women because you were
dumped by women you wouldn’t want to be with anyway—you’re
going to scare off the women who are genuinely attracted to guys
like you. The women who bolted did you a painful favor, and you
should be grateful. Because with those average women out of your
life, EGADS, you’re free to go find an above-average woman who
wants an above-average guy like you. Pro-tip: You’re likelier to find
those women at a fetish party or club, or via a kink social-media site
or dating website. Good luck.
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by Dan Savage
54 | AUGUST 2017 • BEATROUTE