BeatRoute Magazine BC Edition - December 2019

beatroute

BeatRoute Magazine is a music monthly and website that also covers: fashion, film, travel, liquor and cannabis all through the lens of a music fan. Distributed in British Columbia and Alberta, Ontario edition coming Thursday, October 4, 2019. BeatRoute’s Alberta edition is distributed in Calgary, Edmonton, Banff and Canmore. The BC edition is distributed in Vancouver, Victoria and Nanaimo. BeatRoute (AB) Mission PO 23045 Calgary, AB T2S 3A8 E. editor@beatroute.ca BeatRoute (BC) #202 – 2405 E Hastings Vancouver, BC V5K 1Y8 P. 778-888-1120

THE YEAR (AND DECADE) IN REVIEW

SPECIAL

ISSUE

DECEMBER 2019 • FREE

Top 10

Artists

of the

Decade

Best

Albums

of 2019

Artist Of

The Decade

Kendrick

Lamar

Featuring

Dave

Orville

Peck

Purple

Mountains

Tyler The

Creator

Fontaines D.C.

Idles

FKA twigs

Adele

Rihanna

Helado

Negro

Summer

Walker

Big

Freedia

Drake

Arcade

Fire



Contents

BEATROUTE

BEATROUTE

BEAT

ROUTE

BR

BRLIVE

BRYYZ

Music

4

18

19

20

22

Up Front

Electronic music mastermind

Felix Cartal shares his

Best of 2019 picks with us.

The Year Of Yeehaw!

The outlaws of country are

stealing the spotlight and

we couldn’t be more excited

to walk down that “Old

Town Road” with them.

EDM 4 EVR

From Grimes and Skrillex

to Diplo and TOKiMONSTA,

the last decade of electronic

music provided the beats

that bind.

The Playlist

All the singles we can’t stop

listening to this month.

Best of 2019

There’s no one sound to a

year but we highlight our

favourite albums from 2019

that gave us all the feels.

Cover Story

6

THE YEAR (AND DECADE) IN REVIEW

SPECIAL

ISSUE

Artist Of

The Decade

Kendrick

Lamar

Artists Of The Decade

Digging into the last 10 years

like it was yesterday. We

hit rewind and reminisce

with Kendrick Lamar, Drake,

Rihanna, Arcade Fire and

more.

DECEMBER 2019 • FREE

Top 10

Artists

of the

Decade

Best

Albums

of 2019

Featuring

Dave

Orville

Peck

Purple

Mountains

Tyler The

Creator

Fontaines D.C.

Idles

FKA Twigs

Adele

Rihanna

Helado

Negro

Summer

Walker

Big

Freedia

Drake

Arcade

Fire

26

31

Best of Vancouver

BeatRoute’s Top 10 favourite

releases from homegrown

artists making noise

in and out of our local music

circles.

Screen Time

28 Best Music Docs

It’s been a massive year for music

on screen. From Beyonce’s

Homecoming to Bob Dylan’s

Rolling Thunder Revue, we hit

rewind on some of the instant

classics.

LifeStyle

Fashion Icons

of the Decade

A lot can change in 10 years,

especially in fashion. We check

in with some of the top style

icons who have continually

turned our heads.

Janelle Monae

has been turning

heads in the

fashion world

with her uniform

style, page 31.

YVR

35

36

37

38

Modest Mouse,

Sunday, Nov. 24 at

Rogers Arena with the

Black Keys. Read our

review of this show

and more online at

beatroute.ca

YVR Agenda

Keithmas celebrates 10 years of

their foodbank fund-rager with

a stacked bill and a full bin of

non-perishables honouring Keith

Richards’ birthday.

Market Watch

Vancouver craft markets make

for easy one-stop shopping that

will make you feel like a holiday

hero.

Plus!

The Vancouver Symphony

Orchestra brings Home Alone

to life and Matthew Sweet’s 1991

album, Girlfriend, gets adapted

for the stage.

Cheat Sheet

BeatRoute brings you the

essential shows for December in

Vancouver.

SAM PHELPS

DECEMBER 2019 BEATROUTE 3


DECEMBER

SPECIAL

ISSUE

THE YEAR

& DECADE

IN REVIEW

BEATROUTE

Publisher

Julia Rambeau Smith

Editor in Chief

Glenn Alderson

Creative Director

Troy Beyer

Managing Editors

Josephine Cruz

Melissa Vincent

Contributing Editors

Sebastian Buzzalino

Dayna Mahannah

RENÉE RODENKIRCHEN

Felix Cartal’s

Very Big Year!

N

ew Westminster, BC is not the

birthplace of EDM. Yet the small

Vancouver suburb is where

Felix Cartal, international DJ and music

producer, cut his teeth in his youth. In

the past decade, Cartal signed with

Steve Aoki’s record label, Dim Mak,

released three albums, and toured the

world. He’s worked with top electronic

producers, including The Bloody Beetroots,

Benny Bennasi, and Diplo. His

first venture into music—playing bass

in the punk and hardcore scenes—

give context to his collaborations

with artists like Sebastien Grainger of

Death from Above, while his dexterity

in sound is reflected in releases with

rappers K. Flay and Danny Brown, or

pop stars like Selena Gomez and, most

recently, Lights.

What is your favourite album of 2019?

James Blake - Assume Form

What is the best show you saw?

Lights’ Acoustic Tour at the Vogue

Theatre

Favourite discovery of 2019?

Gringas, a cheesy variation of my

favourite al pastor taco discovered in

Tulum

What is your biggest accomplishment

of 2019?

My song with Lights, “Love Me,” going

platinum!

What is your goal for 2020?

Create a more engaging live show for

my own music and continue my search

for the best ramen in the world.

By DAYNA MAHANNAH

Follow us on

via @beatroutemedia to

see clips of

Felix Cartal

and other artists

we love weighing in

with their favourite

albums of 2019!

Contributors

Ben Boddez • Emily Corley

Jessica D’Angelo • Aiden D’oust

Lauren Donnelly • Mira El Hussain

Natalie Harmsen • Kathryn Helmore

Chayne Japal • Brendan Lee

Christine Leonard

Maggie McPhee • Max Mertens

Max Mohenu • Sofia Montebello

Isaac Nikolai Fox

Luke Ottonhof • Erin Pehlivan

Michael Rancic • James Rathbone

Yasmine Shemesh

Andrew Wedderburn

Graeme Wiggins • Drew Yorke

Veronica Zaretski • Aurora Zboch

Contributing Photographers

Tom Bagley • DC Berman

Elyse Bouvier • Sebastian Buzzalino

Patrick Chan • Charles Cousins

Mat Dunlop • Michael Fulton

Lukas Holt • Joe Magowan

Mert & Marcus • Lindsay Melbourne

Darrole Palmer • Sam Phelps

Heather Saitz • Mark Surridge

John Taylor Sweet • Tim Walker

Coordinator (Live Music)

Darrole Palmer

Advertising Inquiries

Glenn Alderson

glenn@beatroute.ca

778-888-1120

Distribution

BeatRoute is distributed in

Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary,

Edmonton, Winnipeg,

Saskatoon and Toronto

Contact Us

26 Duncan Street,

Suite 500,

Toronto ON,

M5V 2B9

e-mail: editor@beatroute.ca

@beatroutemedia

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beatroutemedia

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Heather

Mark Su

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BEATROUTE

TOP

I

N THE LAST TEN YEARS WE’VE SEEN A RADICAL

TRANSFORMATION IN THE WAY WE CONSUME

MUSIC—YOUTUBE AND SPOTIFY TRANSFORMED

THE LANDSCAPE AND HAVE OFFICIALLY BECOME

A FACTOR IN CHART PLACEMENT. YOUNG MILLENNIAL

MEGA STARS, LIKE FRANK OCEAN AND ED SHEERAN,

BILLIE EILISH AND FKA TWIGS, MATERIALIZED FROM

INTERNET PHANTASMAGORIA TO FLESH-AND-BLOOD

WUNDERKINDS. VIRTUOSOS FROM THE AUGHTS

SPILLED OVER, PROVING CHAMPIONESQUE ENDUR-

ANCE. HERE, WE GIVE YOU A RUN-DOWN OF THIS

UNFORGETTABLE TIME IN MUSIC HISTORY WITH OUR

TOP 10 ARTISTS FROM THE LAST DECADE.

10

2010 – 2019

artists

of

the

decade

6 BEATROUTE DECEMBER 2019


1Nº

Kendrick

Lamar

ARTIST

OF THE

DECADE

D

uality has always been a

facet of the overarching

narrative of hip-hop. At its

core, the music is woven

together, with every

rapper contributing a different

part of the same anthology of

stories. Every release adds to a sort

of invisible balance that gives the

audience a temperature check on the

overall health of hip-hop at any given

time. Throughout the 2010s, Kendrick

Lamar single-handedly kept this gauge

balanced.

Without discrediting the host of

other incredible MCs that emerged

during the decade, Kendrick’s role in

moving the genre forward was bigger,

and bolder. Through a near-perfect

run of releases, his music built a new

environment for contemporary hip-hop

to live in, and recast the ambition of the

rappers attempting to play in his house.

As brilliant and as “conscious” as he is,

Kendrick Lamar, very early in his career,

understood the importance of amplifying

dynamics—morality alongside

pleasure, exasperation in tandem with

hope, pain as a catalyst for redemption—

to give us a front row seat into

his ever-changing emotions, ideas,

and feelings that led him to produce

the most consistently inspiring

work of the 2010s.

On December 31, 2009, the

artist formerly known as K-Dot

reintroduced himself as Kendrick

Lamar with a self-titled EP that ran

over an hour long—so, not an EP at

all—and offered a clear indication that

Kendrick, and his camp, might not be all

that interested in playing by the rules. To

follow up, he released a companion piece

to the full-length EP, Overly Dedicated. The

project ended up outshining its parent, garnering

Kendrick accolades on the blogs of the time

with personal songs about childhood, family, and

relationships like “Cut You Off (To Grow Closer)”

and “Average Joe” alongside a Lex Luger-esque,

Schoolboy Q-introducing knucklehead banger

“Michael Jordan” and a beautifully introspective

manifesto with “The Heart Pt. 2”.

It wasn’t just his versatility that stood out, but

also the distance between his subject matter and

how comfortably he was able to shift between

them. By the end of the year, he’d effectively

carved out a niche for himself, building up a following

of fans, peers, and critics alike, including his

Compton, California hometown hero, Dr. Dre.

While a bigger deal between Dre and Kendrick’s

label owner Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith was

brewing, he readied the pivotal Section.80. On “The

Spiteful Chant”, Kendrick says “Everybody heard

that I fuck with Dre and they want to tell me I made

it / Nigga, I ain’t made shit, if he gave me a handout,

I’ma take his wrist and break it.” As he was about

to venture off into super stardom, partly off the impending

Dre backing, it was a point for Kendrick to

establish that he has made it on his own merit. He

went extra hard on Section.80 to prove he could

make a classic before the big budgets and official

co-signs were involved. It will always be part of

Kendrick Lamar’s legacy that he laid a foundation

as a successful independent artist, before taking

off, and Section.80 exemplifies that.

A year later, it didn’t take much to unearth the

dichotomies in good kid, M.A.A.D. city. For the

hyped Kendrick Lamar—at that point, hip-hop’s

next chosen messiah—to speak so candidly about

navigating feelings of ostracisation in his own

neighbourhood, saw him immediately cash in on

that hype as audiences who might’ve initially come

for the bars were able to connect and relate to

Kendrick on a deeper level. For an artist as young

as Kendrick to be so vulnerable was a breath of

fresh air.

Kendrick lays out his options in “Money Trees”

picking between “Halle Berry or hallelujah,” using

references to sexual attraction and religion to symbolize

instant gratification and doing the right thing.

It’s something Kendrick has had to balance as an

artist as well; delivering hit songs—leaning on current

trends to help attain radio play—or aiming for

CONTINUED ON PG. 9 k

SECTION.80 / 2011

GOOD KID, M.A.A.D CITY / 2012

TO PIMP A BUTTERFLY / 2015

DAMN / 2017

k



BEATROUTE

TOP 10 ARTISTS OF THE DECADE

IMAGE PRESS AGENCY / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

Most Popular Artist of the Decade

Drake

T

here’s

a stat floating around

the Internet right now that

neatly ties up Drake’s dominance

with a little owl-embroidered

bow. According

to someone who pays for

Nielsen chart data, Aubrey

Graham has maintained a

2Nº

position in the Billboard Top 10 during

476 of the decade’s 520 weeks. For

context, that’s over 80,000 hours worth

of OVO-approved music — which we

are pretty sure is the actual runtime of

Scorpion.

But how did the man who somehow

broke social media by lint-rolling his

pants at a Raps game, become the

biggest pop star in the world? Well for

one, you can credit the music itself. Drake

was rap’s first post-bling era superstar,

the first to blur the lines between rap and

R&B seamlessly, and that penchant for

genre smashing carries on to this day.

Championing new sounds has been a major

play to continuously remain relevant

and exciting to both new and old ears.

After the success of his first few projects,

Drake leveled up even further and

took cues from the diaspora he grew up

around in North York. With 2016’s Views

— arguably Drake at his most commercially

and culturally relevant — he championed

and collaborated with dancehall and

Afrobeat artists to bring the global sound

to North American audiences. Unsurprisingly,

the tunes that followed became

some of his biggest to-date.

Tracks like “One Dance” and “Controlla”

set him apart from American rappers and

pop stars regurgitating the same sonic

elements we’ve been accustomed to this

past decade. Drake allowed his once signature

sound to become more malleable,

incorporating and borrowing elements

from global genres. It’s this slight, but

noticeable, reinvention that kept us going

back for more.

Drake’s stranglehold on Internet culture

is another big key to his incredible

success. As far as global megastars go,

Aubrey was an early adopter of internet

culture. It’s been a skill that has set him

apart from his peers and one used continuously

throughout the decade to further

his dominance.

From his early days on MySpace, to

his current Twitter memedom, Drake

embraced and leveraged the internet to

become a lovable, larger than life media

darling, someone even your grandma can

get behind.

Back in 2015, in the midst of his

high-profile beef with Meek Mill, Drake’s

team took to social media and culled a

truck full of memes pointed against the

Philadelphia emcee. When he hit the OVO

Fest stage a few weeks after dropping his

club-banging diss track, “Back to Back,”

Drake augmented his performance of

the song by projecting those jokes on a

screen for all to see. It was like a show

set designed by Fuck Jerry and it was all

anyone was talking about for days.

It’s plays like these that catapult Drake

and his music to the top of the charts

every few months, and it’s why he’s been

able to muscle his way (shout out OVO

Jonny Roxx) to the top of the industry

mountain. His ability to stay top of mind

is unparalleled. He’s the biggest pop star

of the decade because there’s always

something Drake-related to talk about...

hell we’re doing that right now. ,

By AIDEN D’OUST

Kendrick

Lamar

k CONTINUED FROM PG. 7

individualism and originality in timeless albums.

When the 2014 Grammys chose to bestow

Macklemore with all of Kendrick Lamar’s awards

for good kid while also asking him to share the

stage with Imagine Dragons for his performance

at the ceremony—which, arguably, actually

wasn’t that bad—it seemed like Kendrick had

finally taken a loss. But there was triumph in this

defeat: It further galvanized hip-hop fans around

Kendrick Lamar.

In 2016, he went on to win six Grammys for

the critically-lauded To Pimp A Butterfly, a rich,

sprawling album that saw Kendrick’s sound move

deeper into jazz and funk while speaking about

the Black experience in America on a broader

level. The record’s rallying cry, “Alright,” became

immortalized as an unofficial anthem during

Black Lives Matter protests.

DAMN. saw Kendrick Lamar winning five more

Grammys in 2017, and a Pulitzer Prize in Music.

The album was Kendrick Lamar hitting on all

cylinders; covering themes of family, Blackness,

and destiny through tight, melodic, catchy bursts.

The absolute slapper “HUMBLE.”, featuring

production from Mike WiLL Made-It was still an

unapologetically “Kendrick” song, landed at #1

on the Hot 100. He put together a soundtrack for

Black Panther in 2018 and continues to turn in

jaw-dropping guest spots for everyone from Beyoncé

to Taylor Swift (his other #1, “Bad Blood”

in 2015)—not that he’ll ever do one that could

garner more response than his name-naming

verse on Big Sean’s “Control” in 2013—to keep

his catalog varied and relevant.

It matters to listify Kendrick’s decade in

chronological order because at the tailend of

2019, recognizing his accomplishments provides

an opportunity to remember his growth. It’s not

only that he comfortably straddles the line between

pop classics and backpack rap, or that he

effortlessly bounces from sage wisdom to brash

ignorance, it’s the fact that Lamar has structured

his career to reject sonic and thematic binaries

at every juncture. Alongside his undeniable talent,

it’s the secret to his accessibility, relatability, and

impact. And it’s one of the reasons why he was

so captivating during a decade that ultimately

became his. ,

By CHAYNE JAPAL

NOVEMBER 2019 BEATROUTE 9



BEATROUTE

TOP 10 ARTISTS OF THE DECADE

3Nº

Vanguard of the Decade

Rihanna

R

ihanna began the decade with the vibrant

and vivacious Loud (2010), her fifth album,

and one that’s filled with the bright, fierce

energy we’ve come to associate with its

creator. Loud was a departure from its predecessor,

Rated R, where Rihanna probed

darker themes and found release through

artistic self-expression.

Yet the start of this decade showed us

only a glimpse of Rihanna’s capacity to transcend

and transform through her own unique creative

vision. As we near the end of the 2010s, we’ve come to

know Rihanna as an ever-evolving, multi-hyphenated talent,

an icon as bright and distinct as her music, whose

artistic aptitudes and business savvy has allowed her to

build her legacy.

She’s an adept collaborator, an inimitable artist (think

of the broad emotional palette of 2016’s Anti), and a

tenacious businesswoman.

She’s collaborated with a wide-ranging group of

artists, from Jay Z and Shakira, to Paul McCartney and

Kevin Parker. On the same album, sometimes on the

same song, she can wrap together an even blend of

soulful, powerful and raunchy.

As the founder of beauty company Fenty Beauty,

lingerie line FENTY X SAVAGE, and a new fashion brand

that launched this spring under luxury fashion group

LVMH, Rihanna proved her creativity and persistent

work ethic know no bounds. She quickly soared to the

top as a fashion designer, beauty mogul and business

owner, while also redefining the landscape of beauty

and fashion: her range of foundations and concealers,

for example, is available in more skin tones than even

the most established beauty brands.

Nine Grammy Awards, 12 Billboard Music Awards and

even six Guinness World Records? Check. An artistic

and business drive that accumulated in more than 250

million records sold and a reported $600 million fortune

(Forbes named her the world’s wealthiest woman in

music in 2019)? Check. A Harvard Humanitarian of the

Year award? Check. Roles in top-billing films, like her

character Nine Ball in Ocean’s 8? Check. The woman

even has her own holiday — February 22 is known as

national “Rihanna Day” in Barbados.

For Rihanna, however, the portrait of a renaissance

woman, and a self-made one at that, the iconography

of a goddess, the larger-than-life picture of creative

success, co-exist peacefully with a more intimate self

(the shy, goofy, and funny Rihanna that she has shared

with us, graciously, over the past 10 years).

Throughout the past decade, the word trailblazer and

Rihanna have become synonymous. Most significantly,

Rihanna’s decade-long journey to create and reinvent

herself—the persona, the artist, the icon, the businesswoman—culminated

in a complex and self-realized

woman who redefines what it means to own power and

success, on her own terms. One-name celebrities and

cultural powerhouses are gradually etched in our collective

cultural consciousness through private and public

feats of reinvention and perseverance. No one proved

that more than Rihanna over the last decade. ,

By VERONICA ZARETSKI

4

Most Famous Underdog

BIG FREEDIA

I

n 1996, Freddie Ross was a gay teenager graduating high

school — the same year he first sang as a backup vocalist for

his friend Katey Red, the prolific gay rapper from New Orleans’

Third Ward. Back then, Ross could not know that, twenty years

later, Beyoncé would be calling in hopes that Ross would record

vocals for her new song.

It wasn’t long after that first performance with Katey Red

that Ross found footing centre stage in New Orleans’ thriving

bounce music scene. He became, on stage and in everyday life,

Big Freedia Queen Diva.

Undisputedly credited for launching an entire subgenre of underground,

region-specific hip-hop to the front of international pop music, Freedia

has, in the past decade, appeared in the media’s most revered outlets. Lil

Wayne referenced her on “Back To You.” Her raps are sampled in two of

Drake’s singles, “Nice For What” and “In My Feelings.” Lizzo is featured on

Freedia’s hit “Karaoke.” You’ll recognize Freedia’s deep voice hollering “I

came to slay, bitch” between refrains on Beyoncé’s “Formation,” as well as

singing alongside RuPaul, Charli XCX, and Kesha.

The challenges Freedia has faced throughout her career are a testament

to her incredible resilience and hard work. She was displaced after

Hurricane Katrina wiped out much of her neighbourhood in 2005. Relocating

to Houston, Texas, Freedia continued to perform, giving bounce music

exposure in a new state. Tragedy struck multiple times in a short span

of years: a boyfriend was lost to gun violence, her mother succumbed to

cancer, and her brother was killed in a shooting. Big Freedia herself has a

bullet lodged in her forearm from an unprovoked attack years ago.

Yet, what defines Freedia is her energy and her willingness to share it.

Through a successful docu-series that aired for six seasons, her autobiography,

and organizing and setting a Guinness World Record for Most

People Twerking Simultaneously (2013, 358 people between the ages of

eight and 80, New York City), Freedia expresses a homegrown sentiment:

positivity is catching.

In 10 years, the Queen Diva has infused mainstream music with the

sounds, and the moves, of New Orleans bounce. But it’s the tip of the

iceberg: the groundwork that Freddie Ross laid out in clubs around the

Melpomene Housing Projects all those years ago have truly paid off.

There’s only one question left: what’s next for Big Freedia? ,

By DAYNA MAHANNAH

DECEMBER 2019 BEATROUTE 11



BEATROUTE

TOP 10 ARTISTS OF THE DECADE

Arcade

Top Band of the Decade

Fire

I

n many ways, Arcade Fire could be

5Nº

considered the first mature Internet

band. They grew up together through

the early days of web 2.0 when they

debuted with Funeral in 2004 — and

the Internet was coming into its own

— positively blossomed alongside

social media during the first half of this

decade, and suffered their own share of

missteps as the bubble got too big around them in 2017 with

Everything Now.

Arguably their biggest shared moment came in 2010, when Arcade

Fire teamed up with Google for “We Used To Wait,” which cleverly

dovetailed listeners’ own personal histories with an interactive music

video, bringing their fan’s childhood homes and neighbourhoods to a

viral social media experience. It felt so fresh at the time, the promise

of the Internet come true: there was an optimism at the last turn of the

decade, that we could individually matter in a vast, infinite ocean of

consciousness, knowledge, advertising, communication, and sharing.

Arcade Fire is one of this decade’s most important bands not necessarily

because their songs are good (though some are undeniably

great), but because of how they’ve positioned themselves at the intersection

of indie rock and arena rock; at the intersection of nostalgia for

an extremely recent past and looking ahead to the near future; at the

intersection of music, technology and our place among it all.

As the 2010s come to a close, the world seems like it’s burning more

than ever. Among it all, Arcade Fire continue to stand as an optimist’s

band where love, community, art and pure technology can triumph. ,

By SEBASTIAN BUZZALINO

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DECEMBER 2019 BEATROUTE 13


BEATROUTE

TOP 10 ARTISTS OF THE DECADE

Queer Icon of the Decade

6Nº

FRANK

OCEAN

W

hen Frank Ocean’s heartfelt letter surfaced on Tumblr in 2012, the mainstream

media’s expectations for a Black queer revolution were heavily misguided.

The act of saying “I’m gay” for any black person is packed with nuance and an

inherent fear that looms within our history and cultural norms. Some of the hardest

lessons and personal milestones that come with Black queerness are achieved in a

state of deep reflection and solace, not in the limelight for everyone to critique.

Seven years on, Ocean’s queer awakening is still a beautiful act of self-care. His

journey has taught us that as we continue to navigate queerness in the real world,

we need to explore the ideas around the traditional “coming out” story and ask why

this is still the most coveted form of disclosure.

Frank teased about unrequited love on his debut album, Channel Orange, without giving that love a

face. His approach allowed him to freely explore artistry without the toxic pressures of Black masculinity.

The announcement of his first love with a man was an act of power and liberation in the wake

of the album’s success. Le1f and Mykki Blanco were beginning to cement their legacy, while fighting

the painfully reductive label of “gay rapper.” It’s a blessing and a curse to be recognized solely based

on your identity, especially as a Black person.

Knowing the soft, elusive nature of Ocean’s music made it no shock to me that after his Tumblr

post he retreated back to his other first love and kept his secrets in his songs. Moving in silence is

transcendent and deeply inspiring when looking at Ocean’s accomplishments. Blonde arrived as we

watched Ocean become more comfortable in his skin. He sings “Here’s to the gay bar you took me

to” on “Good Guy”—a nod to those mementos in life that shape your queerness.

The label doesn’t add value to the struggle; the visibility doesn’t validate the journey. Black queerness

is entering a new era where folks get to steer their own ships without labels and without fear.

We’re learning that self-love is the best medicine, and that our glow-up doesn’t need to be fodder for

an inclusivity contest. Ocean’s model for queer awakening has been a great tool to reference. I feel

lucky to live in a time where I can learn what version of “out and proud” works for me.

To quote a recent meme, when we talk about “coming out” in the next 20 years, I’ll look to Frank

Ocean’s journey and I’m gonna tell the kids THIS was the Black queer revolution. ,

By MAX MOHENU

7Nº

Biggest First-Week Sales

Adele

T

he music industry underwent huge changes this decade.

Pop artists repackaged themselves to suit marketing

campaigns in hopes that it would keep album sales from

tanking further. And then there was Adele and her her

own, bold strategy: she let the music speak for itself.

Her 2008 debut album, 19, earned her two Grammy Awards and, in 2011,

Adele secured her legendary status when her sophomore LP, 21, became a

runaway hit.

An album of heartsick ballads like “Someone Like You,” and breakup songs

like “Rolling in the Deep,” 21 won Adele numerous awards including six Grammys

and made Billboard chart history as the first solo female artist to have

three singles simultaneously in the Top 10.

The accolades are staggering, even more so when you consider that her

albums’ numbers correspond with her age at the time she recorded them.

Three years after the release of 21, at 24-years-old, Adele Adkins became

the mononymous Adele, and one of the world’s highest-paid celebrities under

30.

There’s a timelessness to Adele. In many ways, she is a throwback to another

era, from her stripped down live performances, to her vintage-inspired

style. Her singing voice is sometimes bluegrassy, sometimes soulful, but

always powerful.

By 2014, she had added Oscar winner to her resume for her Bond film

anthem, “Skyfall.” But, in 2015, four years after 21’s release, she worried the

world might have moved on in her absence.

On its first day, 25 sold over a million copies in the U.S. By the end of its

first week it had broken sales records worldwide. 25 cleaned up at the Grammys

and Brit Awards and broke chart records, surpassing Madonna. Most

notably, in the age of streaming, people were buying CDs and LPs.

In a time of difference and disconnect, Adele’s contributions to music this

decade are undeniable: she brought feelings back into the equation. ,

By LAUREN DONNELLY

14 BEATROUTE DECEMBER 2019


MERT & MARCUS

The Decade's Most Influential Artist

8

KANYE WEST

O

ver the course of the

2010s, Kanye West’s

rise and fall from grace

embodies much of the

collective highs and lows,

anxieties and fears, and

fixations and obsessions

in a way few individuals

ever have.

For Kanye, the 2010s

started at a low point. His 808s and

Heartbreaks album had divided his

fanbase during the autotune wars.

Beyond the burgeoning trap scene

in Atlanta, the state of rap was at an

all-time low point as the ascendant

stars of tomorrow had yet to fully

rise. In the fall of that year, after

a string of excitement building

G.O.O.D. Fridays, he released My

Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,

an album of maximalist sentiment,

packed with features, samples,

overt emotions, and dense soundscapes.

The next year Kanye followed this

success with the Jay-Z collaboration,

Watch the Throne. Recorded

in the suites of some of the world’s

most expensive hotels, while

there are certainly some poignant

ruminations on what it means to be

black in America, Watch the Throne

serves mostly as a canticle for the

successful merger of hip-hop and

the mythology of capitalism.

In 2012, he continued his reign

with Cruel Summer, a G.O.O.D.

music album. Like most label

compilations it was a mixed bag,

but notable for its inclusion of Travis

Scott as a regular collaborator and

future family member. That same

year, Kanye started dating Kim

Kardashian, creating a nucleolus

of public attention for the rest of

the decade. Around this time he

also became a mainstay of Twitter,

which, in all seriousness, he was

very good at, especially when

tweeting about water bottles.

During this time, Kanye signaled

a transition towards fashion. His

infamous leather jogging pants

line aside, he spoke continually

about the industry gatekeeping he

and his partner Virgil Abloh faced,

turning his discontent to outright

hostility on the aggressive, industrial

inspired Yeezus.

In 2015, Kanye launched his

fashion line, Yeezy, climbing to the

top of the streetwear pile. With

Kanye however, this merchandise

transcended his fanbase.

Suddenly the chain was complete.

The ever-rising importance of

celebrity had reached a new level:

Kanye could tweet when he felt

like it, or disappear; and the Yeezys

created their own global mania of

have and have nots. Kanye and

Kim essentially became brands

personified.

The next year, Kanye released

The Life of Pablo, coinciding with his

second Yeezy collection’s fashion

show. Pablo became notable as one

of the first releases to get edited

after it was released, like a piece

of software, with different mixes,

verses, and even songs. It features

Kanye at his best with touch points

from his whole career.

That fall he started the Life of

Pablo Tour, which fairly quickly

derailed itself with particularly long

onstage rants and cancellations,

resulting in Kanye’s hospitalization

for exhaustion-related psychosis in

November 2016. Shortly after this,

he appeared at Trump Tower, meeting

with the new president-elect.

After this, he mostly disappeared

from public life for the next year.

After re-emerging in the spring

of 2018, donning a MAGA hat and

making an appearance on TMZ

that confirmed many Kanye fans’

worst fears, as he made strange

and ill-advised comments about

the role of slavery in contemporary

black mentality, he released several

albums from his Wyoming Sessions

to mixed reviews.

While his Kids See Ghosts collab

with Kid Cudi was mostly praised,

Ye, was largely panned. Kanye had

quite quickly gone from the most

beloved of rap’s stars to a target of

the woke generation’s ire.

Kanye has always been a

provocateur, though seemingly he

had picked the wrong side at this

point. In some ways, it seemed just

another casualty of the Trump presidency,

and its taint upon western

culture.

This fall, Kanye started a new

project, Sunday Sermons, where he

performed classic songs with a gospel

choir. Seemingly the vitriol had

inspired him to find God through

music, producing sometimes truly

beautiful renditions of his classic

songs. It wasn’t long until Kanye officially

found Jesus, released a middlingly

gospel record, and moved to

Wyoming, as if completing the latest

step of rockstar passage.

While many are skeptical and

see this as his latest scam, it’s in

some ways easy to identify with his

motivations. The last decade has

been amongst the most plugged

in, noisiest, and politically volatile.

Kanye is not alone in feeling a bit

spiritually bankrupt. Yet, despite his

many recent missteps, his intuition

is correct. Maybe what we all need

is some time in nature, and to let the

music save us. ,

By JAMES RATHBONE

DECEMBER 2019 BEATROUTE 15


camila cabello

12/06/2019

Romance

16 BEATROUTE DECEMBER 2019


BEATROUTE

TOP 10 ARTISTS OF THE DECADE

The Decade's Tour Slayer

ED SHEERAN

9Nº

At some point in the late 20th century,

there was a shift in concert culture

as shows across the board became

less about performing songs and

more about producing spectacles.

Multi-million dollar budgets, pyrotechnics,

hydraulics, special effects, LEDs,

flying cars and whatever else you can

imagine are just a regular part of artists’

stage shows these days—which is

MARK SURRIDGE

exactly why the top touring act of the

decade might surprise you.

Ed Sheeran incorporated none of the above

into his Divide tour, but still managed to gross an

insane $740 million USD across the tour’s twoyear

run. And while two years is undoubtedly a

long time to be on tour, Ed managed to rake in the

big bucks while charging a modest $89 average

ticket price, far less than many other artists. For

comparison, Jay Z and Beyoncé’s On The Run tour

tickets clocked in at $150 a pop on average.

There’s a few other factors to Sheeran’s profitability,

including his dependability. Out of the 260

dates, he only canceled a handful—four of which

were when he broke his arm during a biking accident,

making the central part of his stage show

(playing the guitar) impossible.

To top it all off, Sheeran’s commitment to his

fans throughout the Divide run was palpable. His

team were diligent about canceling tickets purchased

by bots in an attempt to curb scalping or

resale, and for a number of shows they purposely

didn’t sell front row tickets—which would have

fetched a higher price—in order to surprise fans

who purchased nosebleed seats with a nice upgrade.

,

By JOSEPHINE CRUZ

10

Putting Punk Back

in the Conversation

IDLESP

erhaps the most obvious reason for Idles’ importance

in the current punk rock landscape can be

found in the title of their most recent album, Joy As

An Act of Resistance (2018).

The highly touted album is a 12-track monster

that fuses the moody dissonance of post-punk

with the fury and energy of hardcore, and enough

hooks to satisfy a full festival field. They’ve got all

the classic punk fixings: gruff, aggressive vocals,

jagged guitars and high octane drums. But underneath the surface there’s an ethos of

compassion that undercuts well-worn punk and post-punk tropes.

In the last few years, there’s been a resurgence of the post punk genre, with bands

like Savages, Shame, and Tropical Fuck Storm bringing the genre back to the surface.

Moody, angular and dark, post-punk isn’t known for it’s joyfulness. Idles play with that:

they use the aggression of punk rock as a Trojan horse of sorts to smuggle in a sense

of caring to the listener.

Their debut, Brutalism, was a little closer to traditional post-punk, a humongous

sounding record that was pure, raw fury. Underneath it all, though, there was a seed

that made Idles so distinctive: honesty. With Joy As An Act of Resistance, they’ve taken

that initial sound and refined it, added hooks and filled out the emotional spectrum, creating

a space for themselves that’s at once filled with the punk rock spirit of resistance

and a positivity and sense of caring that leaves them all on their own. It’s this ethic of

caring that has resulted in a fervent, devoted international fanbase.

Joy… is filled with moments of traditional punk rock and masculinity, but they turn it

on its head each time. From raw confessionals like “Samaritan,” where frontman Joe

Talbot screams, “I’m a real boy and I cry/I love myself and I want to try,” which comes

from his experiences surrounding the stillbirth of his child; or the violent compassion

“Colossus,” where he rages, “I put homophobes in coffins,” Idles take tired expectations

and make them fresh again.

In multiple interviews, Talbot has stated that he doesn’t think of Idles as a punk band

despite their sound. It’s not hard to see where he’s coming from, given the way the

band plays with subverting the essential tropes of their touch point genres, but, in some

sense, that subversion is what makes them that much more punk. ,

By GRAEME WIGGINS

DECEMBER 2019 BEATROUTE 17

LINDSAY MELBOURNE


BEATROUTE

2019:THE YEAR IN REVIEW

THE YEAR OF YEEHAW!

LIL NAS X - SHUTTERSTOCK

Fcowboy, to questions of who and

what country looks and sounds like,

the country music scene experienced

one of the most intense

identity crises of 2019.

The genre catalysed this year

with the release of Lil Nas X’s “Old

Town Road.” The song blew up

when he posted it on TikTok in December

of 2018. In March of 2019,

rom the moment I was

exposed to country music in

the halls of my high school,

all I could see was people

whose lives were so greatly

different from my own that

only amplified the isolation

I felt as a queer, immigrant

woman. I, like many others,

felt the genre was distant

enough from my life that

listening to country music

made me feel like a bit of an

alien.

Luckily, 2019 is the year that

mainstream country music progressed

beyond the same handful

of stories. It’s the year that country

music was reclaimed by the outlaws

— the ones who are marginalized,

isolated and excluded

by the very industry they are now

dominating. From the origins of the

the song was re-released under

Columbia Records and it broke on

Lil Nas X

the Billboard Hot 100, topping at

19 in the Hot Country Songs chart

only to be disqualified because it

just wasn’t “country enough,” later

re-entering the charts and becoming

the longest-running number-one

single in Billboard’s history

after 17 consecutive weeks. He

later became the first openly gay

Kacey Musgraves

Black male artist to ever

win a Country Music

Award, even though in

many ways the award

was a snub.

Despite his ongoing

success, Lil Nas X still

faces scrutiny in terms of

whether or not his music really

qualifies as country. In 2019, why

are we so intent on limiting country

music’s potential?

Kacey Musgraves has proven

that country doesn’t need to be

so stuck in its ways. Her lyrics

challenge a pervasive attitude of

indifference at best and bigotry at

worst: in “Follow Your Arrow,” for

example, she voices her support

Orville Peck

for the LGBTQ+ community

and encourages her

fans to be empowered

and autonomous, which

is something commercial

country radio hasn’t

always championed.

And in the year that Lil Nas

X forced open new narratives

for who can be a cowboy, Orville

Peck has made waves as an openly

gay country music star. Shrouded

in mystery, sensuality, and pride,

Peck has created a space where

his Johnny Cash-esque vocals

dissect his male suitors and his live

shows are accompanied by drag

performers.

It’s not just country artists who

identify with and challenge the lone

cowboy archetype — even pop

superstars, like Mitski and Solange,

have embraced cowboy tropes and

have started using it to tell their

own stories of lives that have been

otherwise overlooked.

If the end of this decade has

proven anything, it’s that music is

adaptable. It’s flexible, it evolves

and it is dynamic beyond our

wildest dreams. It’s easy to think of

country as a thing of the past, an

outdated set of attitudes, but with

artists like Lil Nas X and Orville

Peck demanding the spotlight, I

have high hopes for its future.

By MIRA EL HUSSAIN

KACEY MUSGRAVES - DPA PICTURE ALLIANCE / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

18 BEATROUTE DECEMBER 2019


BEATROUTE

THE

BEAT

POETS

I

n the summer of 2012,

Skrillex organized

the Full Flex Express

tour, a cross-Canada,

multi-city performance

expedition. Inspired

by a similar 1970 train

tour featuring rock

heavyweights Janis Jopin, the

Grateful Dead, and The Band—

the stacked lineup included

Diplo, Grimes, Pretty Lights, and

OWSLA signees TOKiMONSTA

and Hundred Waters.

Grimes’ 2012 album Visions

had transformed the Canadian

avant-pop auteur into critical

darling, but she was still a year

and a half away from signing a

management deal with JAY-Z’s

Roc Nation. Diplo and Skrillex

had yet to form EDM Voltron,

Jack Ü, or create one of the decade’s

defining anthems, “Where

Are Ü Now,” with some help from

Justin Bieber.

Though this music-centric

train tour was more successful

than its predecessor, they

shared an ethos of creating

an intimate experience for the

audience.

2010-2019:THE DECADE IN REVIEW

A DECADE OF ELECTRONIC MUSIC PROVIDES

THE BEATS THAT BINDS By MAX MERTENS

For the first half of the 2010s,

brash, rib cage-rattling songs

ruled the Top 40 airwaves,

creating a multi-billion dollar

global industry. A generation of

North American producers put

down their guitars in favour of

watching YouTube tutorials and

downloading Ableton production

software to offer up their own

aggressive interpretations of

what was popular in Europe.

Corporate organizers,

promoters, and brands quickly

capitalized on EDM’s popularity

amongst young audiences, much

to the horror of mainstream media,

law enforcement, and parents.

From Las Vegas’ Electric

Daisy Carnival to Miami’s Ultra

to Toronto’s VELD, the festival

market exploded. The scene’s

biggest stars were predominantly

white, straight males, many of

whom concealed their identities

with masks and elaborate stage

setups.

Despite criticism ranging

from these performers’ artistic

legitimacy and the on-site safety

at these multi-day events, the

disruption of EDM’s reign didn’t

Skrillex and Diplo

arrive until halfway through the

decade.

Concurrent to these happenings,

a diverse, boundary-pushing

underground electronic

scene was thriving

worldwide. In Chicago,

led by the late DJ

Rashad and Teklife

crew, the frenetic,

dancer-driven genre

known as Footwork

rose to prominence

and many of those

artists would release

albums on pioneering

UK electronic label,

Hyperdub.

In Glasgow,

taste-making

labels Numbers

and LuckyMe

put out the

earliest releases

from international

artists who would

become household

names

and work with

the decade’s

biggest rappers

and pop

stars, including Bauuer, Jamie

xx, Hudson Mohawke, Rustie,

and SOPHIE. Closer to home,

a whole crop of producers including

A-Trak, Jacques Greene,

Kaytranada, Lunice, and Tim

Hecker showed there was more

to Montréal music than big band

indie rock.

NON Worldwide, started

by Chino Amobi, Nkisi, and

Angel-Ho, sought to highlight

black diasporic artists worldwide

and bring attention to

“visible and invisible structures

that create binaries in society,

and in turn distribute power.”

Although its founders are based

in New York City, collective and

DJ booking agency Discwoman

represents many international

female, female-indentifying and

genderqueer acts, and continues

to challenge sexism and racism

in the music industry.

The original Full Flex Express

tour artists are still putting out

records, though many have

moved away from the sounds

that first brought them commercial

success: Hundred Waters

launched the “anti-music festival”

FORM Arcosanti, with performances

from artists like Chance

The Rapper and Solange;

after surviving multiple brain

surgeries, Los Angeles-based

producer TOKiMONSTA returned

in 2017 with her album

Lune Rouge; Skrillex picked up

his 13th Grammy nomination for

his 2019 collaboration “Midnight

Hour” with Boys Noize and Ty

Dolla $ign. Diplo headlined

this year’s Stagecoach

(Coachella’s country

sister festival) where

he brought out rap

star de jour, Lil Nas X.

The most interesting

trajectory belongs

to Grimes, who began

2019 making headlines

for her relationship

with Elon Musk

and ended it by

announcing that

her heavily-anticipated

fifth album,

Miss Anthropocene,

would be

out in February

2020.

The future

of EDM is

unknown, but

holds hope of

attracting artists

with a mind to

bring our fractured

world together. ,

TOKiMONSTA

MICHAEL FULTON

DECEMBER 2019 BEATROUTE 19


The Playlist

BEATROUTE

RIGHT

BEATROUTE

BEAT

ROUTE

BR

BRLIVE

BRYYZ

10 SONGS IN

HEAVY ROTATION

AT THE BR OFFICES

NOW

CHECK OUT

BEATROUTE.CA

FOR MORE HOT

TRACKS ON

OUR ROTATING

PLAYLIST

+ VIDEOS,

ARTIST

INTERVIEWS

AND MORE!

Billie Eilish

Everything I

Wanted

The breakout

star finally addresses

her rise

to fame in song,

unable to decide

if all her success

is a dream or a

nightmare. Her

brother Finneas

has mastered

the layering of

her whispery

vocals, and

the harmonies

here are pretty

stunning - the

track is adorably

dedicated to him

as the person

who is always

there for her.

Lil Baby

Woah

Ever the marketing

mastermind,

Lil Baby is clearly

aiming at the

TikTok crowd

with this one. It’s

just begging for a

viral dance challenge.

Previewing

his upcoming

sophomore project,

Baby speeds

up his flow over

a trap-piano

instrumental

before delivering

a melodic chorus

taunting the

haters.

Beck

Dark Places

“Dark Places” is

what happens

when you put

Beck and Pharrell

Williams in a

room together.

Beck’s usual

folk-pop stylings

are enhanced

with some of

Williams’ weirder

quirks, futuristic

synths echoing

around in the

background.

The lyrics are

sparse and

relaxing - this is

one to zone out

and contemplate

existence to.

Tennis

Runner

Frontwoman

Alaina Moore

called this track

“The most

challenging

song we’ve ever

written,” her

perfectionist tendencies

longing

for the best possible

vocal line

to complement

the intoxicating

guitar riff it’s

built around.

The band keeps

up their 70s

throwback pop

style, dropping

some Biblical

references over

an undeniable

groove.

DVSN

No Cryin

(Ft. Future)

This is surprisingly

the first

collaboration

between the

smooth-voiced

alt-R&B duo and

the king of styrofoam

cups and

Auto-crooned

raps. Main

vocalist Daniel

Daley sounds

eerily like Drake,

right down to

the emotionally

distant flexes, as

he trades verses

with Future over

a slow-jam beat

from producer

Nineteen85.

21 Savage

Immortal

A track that originally

debuted

in the Mortal

Kombat 11 trailer,

the ever-menacing

Savage slices

up his opponents

like Liu Kang in

the full version.

Dropping quite a

few references

to the gaming

franchise

amongst his

usual deadpan

humour and

quotables, this

is over four minutes

of straight

bars.

Ralph

Looking For You

Fresh off a spot

opening for the

Canadian Queen

of Pop herself,

Carly Rae

Jepsen, the Toronto

disco-pop

revivalist has

dropped a new

EP. This standout

track plays out

like a PG-13 version

of a classic

Jepsen narrative,

the lonely Ralph

as an outside

observer longing

for a whirlwind

romance.

Miguel

Funeral

Opening with

some cascading

harmonies to

remind everyone

he’s still

one of the best

technical singers

out there, Miguel

switches up his

style to a pounding

electro-bass

groove and a

half-rapped delivery.

The song

barely cracks

two minutes in

length, but it certainly

leaves an

impression with

some downright

debaucherous

lyrics.

Khalid

Up All Night

Khalid recently

tweeted out a

text message exchange

with his

mom where she

said this track

made her want

to do the running

man. Enhancing

his laid-back

pop-R&B chords

with some

uncharacteristically

bouncy

percussion, Khalid

reminisces on

his high-speed

lifestyle while

staring out the

window of a

plane taking him

to his next gig.

Dua Lipa

Don’t Start Now

Linking up with

the same team

that created the

global smash

hit “New Rules,”

Lipa kicks off

another album

cycle with this

funk-pop banger

offering some

dismissive and

confident jabs at

exes who keep

crawling back

after the fact.

She references

“I Will Survive”

in the lyrics, and

this one has the

same energy.

.

20 BEATROUTE DECEMBER 2019


Festive

Festive fun for adults only!

dults only!

DECEMBER 2019 BEATROUTE 21


TOP 10

ALBUMS

OF 2019

N O 1 DAVE

Psychodrama

Neighbour

T

he first time South London

artist Dave toured

Canada, he passed

through Toronto with his

counterpart AJ Tracey,

both of whom were just

starting to break out of the South

London music scene.

This fall, coming off the back of

his Mercury Prize-winning debut

album Psychodrama, playing to a

sold-out audience at the Phoenix

Concert Theatre in Toronto,

he balanced older high-energy

tracks with his more introspective

staples. Moving effortlessly

from piano ballads like “Black”

and “Hangman” to an acapella

cover of his J Hus collaboration,

“Disaster,” without a beat, he had

no trouble engaging the crowd

with his passionately-delivered

confessional lyrics.

With hits under his belt, Dave

could have easily reached for

chart dominance on his debut,

but instead he turned inwards.

Psychodrama is insular, brooding,

and deeply introspective; it demands

to be listened to through

headphones, all in one go. Dave

weaves vivid stories about

growing up in the South London

ward of Streatham, navigating

family life after his brother’s life

sentence, and tells vivid cautionary

tales inspired by his family

members, former classmates and

his formative years.

Psychodrama opens with

the stripped-down “Psycho,”

where Dave sets up the therapy

concept that runs throughout

the album and bares his

emotional scars, quiet bravado

and neighbourhood pride. The


instrumental is a slow burn that

never stops evolving. “Psycho”

begins with twinkling piano keys

and spacey, Enya like-vocals that

get chopped to bits mid-track

as Dave talks about “wanting to

take a pretty woman for a test

drive,” before the top end

falls out entirely, leaving only

a raw sub-bass and a piano

as he opens up about the

“manic depression” he struggles

with when the cameras

are off.

The sonic and emotional

tones Dave establishes in

the opener are consistent

throughout much

of the rest of the album.

“Streatham” begins with

eerie, reversed vocals, which

get washed out as Dave

paints a vivid picture of his

South London neighbourhood,

where “[he] used to roll ‘round

all stupid, Mitcham Lane, that’s

Streatham and Tooting.”

On “Screwface Capital,”

Dave breaks down how London

eats its own alive, and how his

“location changes quicker than

gears on a brand new

Porsche Cayman.”

His therapist’s

recorded voice

flits in and out throughout the album,

affirming Dave’s reflections

and the lessons he’s absorbed

from those around him.

Psychodrama’s emotional

centerpiece is the eleven-minute

“Leslie,” on which Dave uses the

sweeping orchestral backtrack

to tell a cautionary tale about

a pregnant woman’s attempts

to escape her abusive, violent

relationship. Revelatory as ever,

Dave later mentions on the outro

– “Drama” – that the story in

“Leslie” is based on the real-life

experiences of his close family

members.

Although Dave’s reached popstar

status in the U.K., he’s not

tempering his voice to be more

palatable to the island state’s

masses. Take the lead single

“Black,” for example, which

features the lyrics: “The blacker

the berry the sweeter the juice/ A

kid dies, the blacker the killer, the

sweeter the news.” Dave uses

the slow-moving piano ballad to

speak about universal traumas

inflicted on black youth across

the diaspora, while celebrating

the unyielding solidarity and

community forged by those

shared experiences.

Isaac Nikolai Fox

JOE MAGOWAN

N O 2 PURPLE

MOUNTAINS

Purple Mountains

Drag City

“The end of all wanting / is all I’ve

been wanting,” David Berman sings

in the chorus of “That’s Just the

Way I Feel,” the opening cut on

Purple Mountains.

It’s a gut-wrenching, perfectly

constructed line, delivered halftime

for emphasis; one of hundreds

of perfectly-constructed lines

across the 10 gorgeous, heartbreaking

songs on this album.

Even if you’d never heard of

David Berman and came to Purple

Mountains devoid of context, the

ache and struggle in his songwriting

are unmissable. You don’t

need a long relationship with

the artist to fall for the charm

of these bitterly funny tunes,

smartly balanced by the bouncy,

energetic lo-fi rock that his

band — comprised of members

from Brooklyn folk rock outfit,

Woods — is cooking out behind

the singer.

But people aren’t coming

to Purple Mountains devoid of

context. And the real ache and

struggle, the real-life outcome,

undercuts the set in a painful

way that you can’t get away from.

Berman died by suicide in August

of 2019, just a few months after

this album came out.

“Honk if you’re lonely tonight

/ if you need a friend to get

through the night,” Berman sang

on American Water in 1998. For a

lot of people he was that friend—

someone with an unmatched gift

to articulate complex internal

pain in great songs, someone

who was there when you needed

to hear that you weren’t feeling

these things alone.

Purple Mountains is his last

honk: an incredible addition to a

one-of-a-kind songbook, but one

that will always be haunted by the

wanting—and the end—in that

opening cut chorus.

Andrew Wedderburn

DC BERMAN

N O 3 TYLER

THE CREATOR

IGOR

Columbia

In case you have been living under

a rock, it is Tyler, the Creator’s

world and we are just living in it.

The Los Angeles rapper’s dynamic,

genre-breaking fifth studio album

IGOR was one of the most highly

regarded projects of the year and

once again raised the bar for what

is possible for a solo artist. Entirely

written and produced by himself,

the 12-track project is a carefully

crafted yet revealing exploration

of his identity, queerness and

unnamed romantic love interest -

but things take a turn for the worse

when the guy’s ex-girlfriend gets

involved. Donning a blond wig and

dark glasses, Tyler once again

invents a new alter-ego (this time

heavily influenced by the Gothic lab

assistant archetype of “Igor”) and

takes the listener on an immersive

trip through the perfect mess of

rap, funk and R&B that inhabits

his mind. Narrated by American

comedian Jerrod Carmichael and

backed by a slew of contributors

like Kanye West, Playboi Carti, Solange,

Pharrell and more, IGOR is

simply put Tyler’s most impressive

work to date and it is a pleasure to

witness his artistry. Drew Yorke

DARROLE PALMER


N O 4 FONTAINES DC

Dogrel

Partisan Records

N O 5 HELADO NEGRO

This Is How You Smile

RVNG Intl.

N O 6 FKA TWIGS

MAGDALENE

Young Turkss

N O 7 SUMMER WALKER

Over It

LVRN/Interscope

N O 8 BIG THIEF

Two Hands

4AD

When BeatRoute caught up with

Dublin, Ireland’s Fontaines D.C. in

September they were adamant

about their quest to become one of

the biggest bands in the world.

While they may not have

achieved U2 or Rolling Stones status

yet, their debut album, Dogrel,

packs equal bark and bite, connecting

their socio political views

to the rest of the world through a

tightly wound collection of post

punk poetry.

The album was nominated for

the 2019 Mercury Prize, the UK’s

most coveted music award, and

pushed the band into working even

harder towards their goal of greatness,

spending most of the year on

the road. At one point, they even

had to cancel a significant string of

tour dates due to exhaustion.

Fontaines possess a unique

shuffle and swagger to their

delivery and when frontman

Grian Chatten cycles through his

rolodex of influences that include

Ian Curtis, Gang of Four and Wire

crossed with their post punk

contemporaries like Girl Band and

Shame, there’s something special

that happens and you can actually

feel a beating heart at the core of

each track.

From the the anthemic “Boys In

The Better Land,” to the sensitive

and hypnotic “Television Screens,”

and the barroom ballad closer,

“Dublin City Sky,” the young quintet

have created a powerful bridge

from their discontent in Dublin to

music fans all over and they’ve got

everyone dancing in the process.

Glenn Alderson

Roberto Carlos Lange pulls from

his boundlessly creative arsenal

and presents us with This Is How

You Smile, a mingle of lo-fi audio experimentals,

swervy electro-synth,

and the hypnotics of his own sweet

voice, signed off under the moniker

Helado Negro.

There are harsh truths in Lange’s

sixth album; born to Ecuadorian

parents and living in the socio-political

turmoil of present-day America,

the stories he weaves through Smile

bear witness to the everyday tragedies

and psychological anguish

around immigration and displacement.

But this musical masterpiece—and

that it is—utilizes hope

as an axis from which to gently, daringly

subvert such matters. Visibility.

Identity. Self-love. Kindness.

The sensorial journey begins with

the tender “Please Won’t Please;”

Lange’s sleepy voice ruminates

on brown skin, bittersweet. He

cocoons you in warm guitar strums

and reminds you that it’s okay.

Lange’s love of experimenting with

sound—he records constantly with

his iPhone and infuses his music

with everyday sounds—comes to

life in collages such as the closing

track “My Name Is for My Friends,”

which incorporates recordings of an

Abolish ICE march and kids playing

in his friend’s living room.

Smile is bilingual, like Lange. The

ambling “País Nublado,” features

both English and Spanish, with

dreamy backup vocals providing

relief to fears of a politically “cloudy

country.” The melodic, recursive

“Running” urges slowing down for

its simple beauty.

An ambient, spectral quality reverberates

throughout Smile. It is a

lifeboat in a stormy sea, a synth-induced

meditation for, as Lange

croons in “Seen My Aura,” “sitting

with the sky.” Dayna Mahannah

Her first full length album since LP1

(2014) and the first release of any

kind since the incredible M3LL155X

EP (2015), FKA twigs’ MAGDA-

LENE was a long-awaited release

that bears the weight of our society

in these uncertain times.

By placing herself in direct lineage

with a complex Biblical figure,

twigs demonstrates the pressure,

erasure and demonization of

women throughout history. And

although a somewhat typical figure

for an avant-garde artist, the long

misrepresented Magdalene acts as

a vessel to speak on current truths:

the difficulty of keeping ourselves

afloat amid society’s seething

pressures.

Continuing on the experimental

R&B wave she first charted in 2014,

MAGDALENE is a perfectly crafted

story arc. Opening with “Thousand

Eyes,” twigs’ vocals cascade like a

holy choir of archangels; “Sad Day”

builds omnisciently, mimicking the

rise and fall of a battle. The album

peaks with “Fallen Alien” and slowly

crumbles into a quiet demise, with

“Daybed” acting as the comedown.

The final track “Cellophane” leaves

listeners hanging in the balance

with haunting vocals and sharp

vulnerability.

MAGDALENE is FKA twigs at her

best, delivering a cinematic narrative

of love, loneliness, pain, illness,

and recovery, with an underlying

sense of hope.

Jessica D’Angelo

Playful yet introspective, the

opening lyrics of “Over It” sets the

tone for the debut album of the

same name that has taken Atlanta

native Summer Walker from exotic

dancing and cleaning houses to the

top of the Billboard charts in less

than two years.

While Over It has all the accolades

to prove just how great of an

album it is—including the biggest

debut album for an R&B female

artist in over 10 years, and the

largest-ever streaming week for a

female R&B artist—this is an album

that represents one of the rare

moments that the mainstream and

“the culture” are in agreeance at

the exact same time.

While the “fell in love with a

stripper” trope in rap and R&B is

nothing new, Walker is perhaps the

first artist to give the other side

of the story. Aided by productions

from lauded trap producer and

current boyfriend, London on Da

Track, Over It is a masterful sonic

mix of 90s R&B nostalgia with

Southern strip club vibes—the perfect

canvas for Walker’s laments on

love, heartbreak and womanhood.

And in case you were wondering,

the two met at a strip club Walker

was working at over four years ago,

naturally.

Summer Walker has hinted that

she might retire from music soon

as a result of her social anxiety

and painful shyness, but here’s to

hoping that she’s not Over It and

this is just the beginning.

Josephine Cruz

Big Thief stole the spotlight in

2019 by releasing two albums that,

rooted by the band’s philosophical

inquiries, branch off into distinct

sonic realms.

Where U.F.O.F. (Unidentified

Flying Object Friend) leans on lush

production and eerie samples to

invoke the cosmos, Two Hands

relies on few takes and minimal

overdubs to strip their sound to its

barest bones. The two projects,

nicknamed “The Celestial Twin”

and “The Earth Twin” span the

reaches of outer space and upturn

every rock on Earth to wonder

about human connectedness and

consciousness in complicated

times.

Two Hands is more than its music.

“Most of what we are as a band

isn’t music, it’s our relationships

and our friendships,” guitarist and

lead singer Adrianne Lenker told

BeatRoute. “The music is an expression

of that—so the music only

becomes what it does because of

our relationships with each other.”

The album embodies the

quartet’s ethos of raw vulnerability

and radical coexistence. Lenker’s

vocals quiver with intimacy and

the live takes prioritize passion

over perfection. On emotional

centrepiece “Not,” Lenker has said

they played as if their hair was

on fire. Invoking the desert clime

of the El Paso studio where they

recorded, the whole album feels

burnt to a crisp.

Big Thief masterfully conflate the

personal with the political without

ever pandering or pontificating.

Lenker’s lyrics blur the internal and

external, peppering her stories with

enough personal details as to invite

listeners into a sense of shared

experience. It’s an album to be lost

and found in.

Maggie McPhee


theatre

dance multimedia music

N O 9 SUNN O))

Life Metal

Southern Lord

Sunn O))) have always been a band

that’s existed in multitudes. For

nearly two decades, the prolific experimental

metal band from Seattle

have depended on the magnitude of

a single tone, of a single note, to do

the heavy-lifting of scaffolding the

thematic complexity of a track.

The songs on the band’s eighth

studio album, Life Metal, unfold

glacially, where the apex of rising

action arrives at the speed of a

slow-moving hurricane, unreachable,

but vividly identifiable in the distance.

It’s this devotion to embodying an unwavering

and immovable foundation

that’s made their work ripe for collaboration,

and on Life Metal they’ve

enlisted the help of an all-star cast

of collaborators like Silkworm’s Tim

Midyett and T.O.S. Nieuwenhuizen.

On album opener, “Between

Sleipnir’s Breaths” Icelandic composer

and cellist Hildur Guðnadóttir,

provides vocals— tight, breathy, and

firm—that unfurl prehistoric Aztec

poems. Elsewhere, miscorophic

and unmistakable chimes appear

fleetingly in the opening notes of

“Troubled Air,” before rose-toned

organs float to the top of an immaculate

drone.

It’s evidence of their ability to

balance seismic power with a

remarkable ear for levity. In moments

like this, moments where they wrap

a dense environment in a sliver of

delicacy, they display a different articulation

of force; this time through

unaltered vulnerability, rather than

the magnitude of noise.

They’ve cited Alice Coltrane as

influence, which offers an easy

throughline to decipher why bearing

witness to Life Metal feels almost

doctrinal in nature; something akin to

an opaque pilgrimage that examines

space, speed, and time as a powerful

discursive tool.

Melissa Vincent

N O 10 BILLIE EILISH

When We All Fall Asleep,

Where Do We Go?

Darkroom/Interscope

When Billie Eilish debuted, we were

met with a blonde, blue-eyed teen

songstress who looked like an angel

in gangster clothing. Since then, her

sound has gotten darker and more

defined, and both the critics and the

masses can’t seem to get enough.

In the follow-up to 2017’s Don’t

Smile At Me EP, Eilish shows off the

range in her voice and musical influences

with her first album When We

All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?—a

somber pop effort with ballads, bass,

trap and electronic beats.

During the week of August 24,

2019 the single “bad guy” hit the

#1 spot on the charts, ending the

19-week streak of Lil Nas X’s “Old

Town Road.” This also made Eilish

the first artist born in the 2000s

to top the Billboard Hot 100. Other

standout tracks include “when the

party’s over,” “bury a friend,” and “my

strange addiction.”

In a rarity for pop music in 2019,

all of Eilish’s songs are written and

produced by herself and her brother

Finneas O’Connell. The pair have

since transcended their Soundcloud

roots to incorporate acoustic

elements into their music: ominous

vocal processing, field recordings,

synths, whispers and close breathiness

trigger an almost sensory

(ASMR) experience. Eilish is toughtalking

but soft sung, delivering

nightmarish lyrics floating on dreamy

harmonies.

Early in her career, Eilish has

realized a balance between critical

and commercial success, a dream

for any artist. Enough has been said

about her youthful edge but she truly

channels the digital zeitgeist with

this album. As she takes us deeper

into the shadowy expanse of her

mind, her star will surely only burn

brighter.

Aurora Zboch

GOVERNMENT

PARTNERS

JAN 21 — FEB 9, 2020

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DECEMBER 2019 BEATROUTE 25


TOP 10

VANCOUVERALBUMS

OF 2019

By GLENN ALDERSON,

EMILY CORLEY, KATHRYN

HELMORE BRENDAN LEE and

DAYNA MAHANNAH

N O 1 N0V3L

NOVEL

Flemish Eye

N0V3L have made international

waves with their debut, topping

this year’s list in a psycho-postpunk

fashion statement.

The album is just shy of 20

minutes but grows on the mind

like a well-dressed fungus, so

effortlessly re-listenable that

the shorter run-length is hardly

noticeable.

The six-piece art collective

capture a post-punk sound reminiscent

of 70s and 80s counterculture,

when socially conscious

bands recognized dancing was an

equally effective form of catharsis.

N0V3L takes advantage of nontraditional

time signatures and

guitar tuning that feels slightly off

key to send listeners into a calculated

dance spiral. Pitchy guitar

riffs drive each of the eight tracks

from front to back, intertwining

the sturdy basslines with cymbal-heavy

drumming. At times, in

songs like “Are They,” the guitars

take on a dreamy, shoestring-like

quality and at the heart of it all is

the Clash-like cries that are unrelenting

in a lyrical message oozing

vibes of non-conformity.

The experience reaches a climax

with the finale, a song called

“Division,” that starts with a Blade

Runner-esque warble of synths

and grows with a vivacious rhythm

that peaks in a forlorn horn section,

ending abruptly, like a slipped

misstep off a sheer cliff edge.

It’s easy to get lost in NOVEL,

imagining yourself on a dim-lit

dance floor with a swell of nodding

heads and swaying bodies all

in sync to the same hypnotic beat.

N0V3L have delivered a layered

album that teleports the listener to

another time, somewhere far from

Follow @beatroutemedia

to see N0V3L and others

weigh in with their

favourite albums of 2019!

the grips of 2019, leaving them

there to explore the depths of

their magwnificent new world. (BL)


N O 2 LOUISE BURNS

Portraits

Light Organ

Louise Burns has been building a

reputation as an unstoppable force

in the singer-songwriter sphere since

she first came spiraling back into the

spotlight with her 2010 debut, Mellow

Drama. The narrative she’s chosen for

Portraits is that the rising chanteuse

is returning to her pop roots. After

all, she did cut her teeth in the music

industry as a member of pop group

Lillix, signed and endorsed by none

other than Madonna. However, Portraits

is not vapid pop music looking

to fulfill the next “Call Me Maybe”

fix. There’s truth, vulnerability and a

strong sense of maturity hanging on

the wall with this release, each track

of Portrait looking back at us with an

informed nuance of calculated new

wave precision. (GA)

N O 5 DEAD SOFT

Big Blue

Arts & Crafts

Both grunge-heavy lament and indie-punk

sentiment find genuine space

in Big Blue, Dead Soft’s second album.

Hazy instrumentals and frontman

Nathaniel Epp’s mollifying-to-inflamed

vocals prove the dynamic underground

paragons have outgrown the living room

rock scene. The polarity of frustrations

around the high cost of city living and

bliss in their new home on secluded

Gabriola Island inspire Blue, notably on

the melodic pop-punk “I Believe You”

and the shoegazey saunter-to-run of

“Step Out.” Bassist/backup vocalist

Keeley Rochon’s voice is a deviation and

delight on “The Static.” Big Blue’s big

sound and mushrooming dynamism is

worth making space for. (DM)

N O 7 KRISTIN WITKO

Zone of Exclusion

Kingfisher Bluez

While filled with hooks and undeniably

danceable, listeners dare not

underestimate the grit and swagger

at the core of Kristen Witko’s Zone of

Exclusion. The high-energy album from

Abbotsford performance artist features

boppy percussion and delightful guitar

riffs while tackling themes such as

loneliness, exclusion and identity. Witko’s

sharp lyricism is a punch to the gut

while her arrangements swing from fun,

funky and catchy disco rhythm to wild

and unabated chaos. An unpredictable

boomerang of emotion underpins an

album that effortlessly talks about love,

identity and isolation without sacrificing

old school rhythm. Best Track: I’d

Rather It Be With You (KH)

N O 9 SWIM TEAM

V

Independent

V is the quietly remarkable avant-garde

trio Swim Team’s third official release.

The self-recorded album is poised on

an exquisite knife edge between dark

wave and no wave. The vocals oscillate

between punk (see opener “Brick”) and

aching tenderness on artfully interspersed

tracks “Garden” and “Rabbit.”

The record follows this undulation of

spiky urgency (“Mango”) infused with

soft, eerie pop, ending in tightly wound

dissonance - an incongruence best consumed

in conjunction with trippy visuals

at the band’s website.

Swim Team has gone quiet on the

live front since summer, but V deserves

way more attention than it received upon

release. (EC)

N O 3 SNOTTY NOSE

REZ KIDS

Trapline

SNRK Music / Fontana North

Trapline is the latest assault of hip-hop

bangers from the Haisla rap duo out

of Kitimat that’s equal parts celebration

and commentary on a rapidly

disappearing culture deserving of the

spotlight. Darren “Young D” Metz and

Quinton “Yung Trybez” Nyce can spit

with the best and the long list of beats

will make even the most casual rap fan

howl like a junkyard dog. SNRK have

a contagious momentum and forceful

sound that ignites a little light in the

depths of the soul. Trapline is much

more than just a rap album, something

closer to a mainstream brand of poetry

that demands recognition but begs,

“don’t get caught in the trap.” (BL)

N O 4 K!MMORTAL

X Marks the Swirl

COAX Records

2018’s In Another Life found Sandro

Perri experimenting with form, stretching

ideas out in ways that always felt

in service of the song. In his hands,

those songs were ripe for exploration,

and he made each journey compelling.

The music on Soft Landing feels just

as patient, curious and playful. The

endlessly unspooling “Time (You Got

Me)” opens the record with its dreamy,

contemplative melody, its lyrics sweetly

suggesting a sort of surrender. The

songs that follow, brought to life with

an all-star cast of players, don’t beg for

your attention so much as they invite

listeners to be enveloped and carried

away along with them. (MR)

N O 6 STRANGE BREED

Permanence.

Independent

Rising swiftly from the musical outskirts

of Vancouver and headfirst into

the maelstrom of the current political

climate, Strange Breed is a cathartic hit

of head-banging, feminist garage rock.

The four-piece band’s debut studio

album forges into issues evocative of

the 90s riot grrrl movement (brutally,

as relevant as ever)—the patriarchy

and gender inequality being at the

forefront. Gritty punk ballads dedicated

to female empowerment and consent

breakaway to all-out rock and roll

exaltations of sexuality. Permanence.

contains the rebel spirit of The Runaways

and legitimizes the simple joy of

jumping on your bed, screaming along

to the lyrics. (DM)

N O 8 APOLLO GHOSTS

Living Memory

Independent

In October, Apollo Ghosts transcended

their indie-rock roots and climbed the

ambient stairway to ethereal heights

with Living Memory.

A slow and meditative album, it is a

eulogy to frontman Adrian Teacher’s

father, a victim of alzheimers disease.

Undulating instrumentals and meditative

humming are hypnotizing, taking the

listener on a sorrowful yet cathartic trip.

Seeing parallels between the death

of his father and the systematic death of

BC’s cedar forests, the album is also a

meditation on climate change. While it’s

gloomy, it’s not all doom: 100 per cent of

proceeds are going towards Canadian

Parks and Wilderness Society and the

UNIST’OT’TEN Legal Fund. (KH)

N O 10 DEVOURS

Iconoclast

Artoffact

An Iconoclast is someone who attacks

another’s cherished beliefs or institutions,

and Devours’ Jeff Cancade

has been made to feel that way at

times throughout his life. But the pain

of living in such a marginalized way

has culminated in a deeply thoughtful

collection of songs.

The album is a ten-song testimony

towards the darkness that creeps in

the heart but at the same time is a

blast to pick up your sneakers and

vibe to. There’s a digitized madness

that bubbles in each electro-pop

track, and the album is a must listen

for anyone who broods yet yearns to

feel alive.(BL)


TOP10

MUSIC DOCS OF 2019

We are hitting rewind on the past 12 months to reflect on the highs of 2019

and this past year was a massive year for music on screen. Remember back

in January when that Leonard Cohen doc hit you like a mack truck right

in the feels? Or that sweaty summer night when you happened upon the

Beyonce epic that had you humming “Lemonade” for a whole damn week?

From documentaries shining a light on the past, transporting us directly

into the lives of some of the greatest artists of our lifetime, to soaring

biopics that transcended our expectations, 2019 was firing on all cylinders

for music fans.

This list sums up all those good times with the top ten best music-related

documentaries of 2019.

By BRENDAN LEE

N O 1

ROLLING THUNDER

REVUE

Directed by Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese

and Bob Dylan are a

match made on some

long, dusty road

that certainly leads

nowhere near heaven.

In this acid trip

down memory lane,

the wacky 1975-76

cross-America tour

is resuscitated at a

time when the world

could use a little dose

of Dylan’s peace and

love.

N O 2 MARIANNE

AND LEONARD

Directed by Nick Broomfield

Be sure to stuff your

pockets full of tissues

because if this doesn’t

activate those tear

ducts, nothing will. It’s

a longing look back

at the life of Leonard

Cohen and his lifelong

muse, Marianne Ihlen,

a relationship that

started on the magical

island of Hydra in the

60s.

28 BEATROUTE DECEMBER 2019


N O 3

TRAVIS SCOTT –

LOOK MOM I CAN FLY

Directed by White Trash Tyler

This is undoubtedly the most

‘2019’ film on the list, and

it just might be the purest

specimen representing today’s

face-tat trap movement. It’s

a behind-closed-doors look

at Scott’s last two years, and

his rise from a little boy that

misses Astroworld to a diamond-toothed

demigod.

N O 4

LEAVING NEVERLAND

Directed by Dan Reed

Leaving Neverland extends beyond

the bounds of music. While the

black cloud that’s followed the

‘King of Pop’ for years has been

common knowledge, in this HBO

documentary we get the bare

bones perspective from the victims

— now men — behind that black

cloud. Take a deep breath, watch

both parts, and make up your own

mind once the dust has settled.

N O 5

ANIMA - THOM YORKE

SHORT Directed by PTA

Music videos are more relevant

today than ever, but this

collaboration results in an other-wordly

15-minute long visual

art piece that tells the story of

a sleep deprived passenger

and his solemn search for connection

through the uniquely

feverish cinematic language of

Thom Yorke.

N O 6

COUNTRY MUSIC

Directed by Ken Burns

If all that comes to mind when

you hear the words ‘country music’

is Taylor Swift and an urge to

light something on fire, then this

docuseries is probably perfect for

you. In the 8-part series, legend

Ken Burns gives us all a lasting

lesson on why the genre is so

much more than what they play

on the radio.

N O 7

ECHO IN THE CANYON

Directed by Andrew Slater

It’s Dylan again, but this time,

Dylan Junior. Jakob Dylan revives

what was a meteoric flash

in the music world, when some

of the most influential musicians

— from the Mamas and

the Papas to the Byrds and the

Beachboys — were creating all

amongst one another in the Los

Angeles’ Laurel Canyon area.

N O 8

AMAZING GRACE

Directed by Sydney Pollack and

finally realized by Producer Alan Elliott

In 1972, Aretha Franklin recorded

a live album in a small Baptist

Church, but due to both technical

and legal reasons, the documentary

is only now being released.

Franklin had a voice that registered

on a religious level, so put

on your Sunday best and prepare

for a soul-rockin’ performance

like never before because this

sermon is one you need to hear.

N O 9

DAVID CROSBY:

REMEMBER MY NAME

Directed by A.J. Eaton

He’s a crusty old bugger that’s

lost nearly all his friends on

the journey of life, but he feels

there’s still a chapter or two

yet to be told. David Crosby,

from Crosby Stills and Nash

(amongst others), reflects in

this poignant reminiscence on

life, love, regret, and what’s left

when each day really might be

the last.

N O 10 HOMECOMING

Directed by Beyoncé

and Ed Burke

No music-related list would be

complete without some form of

reference to the Queen herself,

and this one comes as an allout

nod to what’s being called

one of the best concert docs,

not just this year, but of all-time.

It’s a celebration of black culture

and the countless painstaking

hours it took to prepare for

Beyonce’s performance as the

first ever black woman to headline

Coachella. There’s an enigmatic

presence that surrounds her,

and the documentary serves to

peel back the curtain ever so

slightly through the intersection

of brilliantly filmed and edited

concert footage with candid

backstage and preparatory snippets

painting hints of personality

that come in the form of voice

memos and voiceovers, only

adding to Bey’s allure. Where the

film truly thrives is the ways in

which it transcends the present

moment, reflecting not only on

the colossal accomplishment

of the performance itself, but

speaking to its place in history.

Quotes from great black thinkers

and creatives are interspersed

throughout the film, with no one

line better summing the piece

up than actress Danai Gurira’s

thoughts on what it means to be

the guiding light for a world of

so many faithful dreamers: “The

youth need to see greatness

reflected in our eyes. Go forth,

l et them know it’s real.”

FRIDAY LATE NIGHT MOVIES!

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DECEMBER 2019 BEATROUTE 29


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BEATROUTE

2010-2019:THE DECADE IN REVIEW

5

I DRESS HOW I

FEEL. I JUST GO

OFF EMOTION.

I CAN'T PREPARE

MY OUTFIT A

DAY BEFORE.

EVERYTHING I

WEAR IS

SPONTANEOUS.”

FA

SH

ION

ICONS

OF THE DECADE

Another decade bites the dust. It may

not be the longest stretch of time, but in

10 years, a lot can change, especially in

fashion. From the birth of skinny jeans and

athleisure, to the now-popular 90s redux

featuring slinky dresses and chunky shoes,

the 2010s rejected a single, era-defining

fashion trend.

What we do know is that some of our

most beloved musical artists have been

shining in the sartorial spotlight, from Lady

Gaga, Yeezy, and Solange to Rihanna and

Beyonce with their scroll-stopping Instagram

uploads. Here’s a look at a few more

of the decade’s most in-vogue musicians.

By ERIN PEHLIVAN

N o 1 A$AP Rocky

Since the launch of his hit song “Fashion Killa” in 2013,

which name-dropped too many high fashion brands

to list here (but shout out for rhyming Oliver Peoples

with Ann Demeulemeester), A$AP Rocky’s style has

only continued to flourish with confidence.

His pioneering outfits and fresh silhouettes

change faster than you can say all the Comme Des

Garçons diffusion labels in one go, evolving overtime

from sleek streetwear by Rick Owens and

Calvin Klein to a more European vibe featuring

pieces by Dior and Balenciaga.

Hip-hop culture has always looked up to

luxury fashion, but A$AP flawlessly flexes his

personal style for a new generation of fans

who are just as enamoured by the music as

the designer swag.

A$AP falls perfectly into that category as

an influencer who collabed with JW Anderson in

2016, and has been the face of Dior Homme, and even

turned “Babushka Boi” into a fashion moment, all while

sticking to his Harlem roots, showing up in vibrant

colours, clashing prints, and Vans sneakers whenever

he wants to.

With his effortless ability to grace numerous bestdressed

lists, we’ll continue to see A$AP Rocky make

himself at home in the next decade at shows at Milan

Fashion Week and beyond.

SHUTTERSTOCK

DECEMBER 2019 BEATROUTE 31


BEATROUTE

2010-2019:THE DECADE IN REVIEW

5

FA

SH

ION

ICONS

OF THE DECADE

SHUTTERSTOCK

N o 2

Janelle

Monae

Ever since the launch of her

futuristic album Metropolis in

2007, Janelle Monae has been

turning heads with her androgynous

style.

Playing off her love of uniforms

inspired by her family’s

working class background, she

splashed onto the scene with

her iconic monochrome tux,

her pompadour hairstyle, and a

bold red lip.

Since then, she’s taken

black and white suiting to a

new level, adding sharp pops

of colour, glitter, ruffles, and

minimalist prints to her look

whenever it suits her mood. It

wasn’t until the video for “PYNK”

(featuring Grimes) in 2018 when

we realized that Monae is having

more fun with fashion than the

rest of us. Wearing a pair of

fluttering vagina trousers imitating

female genitalia, the video was a

much-needed sex-positive celebration

of pussy power.

Her Met Gala dress in 2019 further

exemplified her avant-garde streak: she

wore a half-black-and-white, half-hot

pink full skirt, with a large eye covering

one of her breasts, as she donned a

toppling collection of hats on her head.

Teeming with abrupt, sensational

asymmetry, she’s been spotted at Paris

Fashion Week repping Valentino, Thom

Browne, Giambattista Valli, and more,

and has made her name as a queer

style icon that honours a future that’s

fluid.

32 BEATROUTE DECEMBER 2019

DARROLE PALMER

N o 3 Bradford Cox

Picking up where David Byrne left off in the oversized

suit category, Bradford Cox of art-garage band

Deerhunter might just be the indie fashion icon of our

times.

In the past, indie style was synonymous with

thrifting retro wares, but in the 2010s, things have

changed: Cox is shamelessly fusing indie rock with

luxury fashion to create a covetable look, and we’re

definitely okay with it.

This year, the Atlanta-born singer-songwriter

walked the Gucci Cruise 2020 runway show in Rome

wearing a forest green wool pea coat, oversized

yellow-tinted sunglasses, and an ornately fringed

golden necklace. He wasn’t the only musician at the

Capitoline Museums that night; both A$AP Rocky

and Elton John were notable audience members, and

the after party at the Palazzo Brancaccio featured a

set performed by Harry Styles and Stevie Nicks.

Often spotted in an earth-tone uniform comprising

Ralph Lauren painter’s pants and a linen shirt from

Kyoto, Japan, he’s not the only indie rocker in the

scene with a connection to fashion: St. Vincent has

modeled for Marc Jacobs, Ariel Pink has his own

fashion line, and Father John Misty has been profiled

in GQ.


N o 4

Harry

Styles

The headlines have confirmed it: Harry

Styles is the future of fashion.

The former One Direction frontman

capped off 2019 on a high note with his

appearance on Saturday Night Live in

November, where he performed “Lights

Out” in a deep-cut black glittery jumpsuit,

and later, “Watermelon Sugar” in

a two-piece suit that channelled the

flesh of the tropical fruit itself.

Earlier in the year, he showed up at

the Met Gala wearing a sheer black

tulle jumpsuit and a single dangling

pearl earring. (He made headlines

then, too.) Electric, charismatic, and

lovable, the UK style export has

grown to become a beloved pop

icon that’s been years in the making,

even before striking a modelling

deal with Gucci in 2018.

\Making appearances in floral

prints, pussybow blouses, and

flares inspired by Elton John,

David Bowie, and Elvis, he’s stated

in interviews that fashion is an

essential part of his performance.

Not only is he comfortable in

gender-fluid styles, but he’s not

afraid to mix high-end designers

like Saint Laurent with emerging

independents, like Harris Reed

of Central Saint Martins, for a

curated look.

The 25-year-old brings joy,

light, and eccentricity all at

once into the public eye — he

isn’t afraid to embrace his

dramatic, feminine side, and

he looks damn good doing it.

N o 5

Grimes

With a style that’s hard to pin

down in the very best way,

Montreal electro-pop musician

Grimes (Claire Boucher) has

made a name for herself in

fashion, appearing at haute

couture shows by Chanel, and

collaborating with the industry’s

top tastemakers like Hedi

Slimane, Ricardo Tisci, and

Alexander Wang.

Mercurial and courageously

future-forward, Grimes has

been blurring the line between punk

alt-fantasy and cyber goth raver with

a questionable dose of Harajuku, even

prior to her big launch of Visions in 2012,

when she became one to watch in the

mainstream.

In 2018, she appeared at the Met Gala with

Elon Musk, who supposedly designed her

outfit featuring a white-marbled corset, a

feathered skirt with a long black train,

and knee-length goth-black stompers.

Forever shape-shifting and endlessly

unconventional, she’s ending the

decade on an impressive note

as the new face of adidas by

Stella McCartney’s autumn/

winter 2019 collection.

It’s not an unlikely combination,

since McCartney

prioritizes eco-conscious

design, and Grimes is

outspoken about the

climate crisis, naming

her fifth album Miss_

Anthropocene due

to launch in 2020.

TIM WALKER

IMAGE PRESS AGENCY / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

DECEMBER 2019 BEATROUTE 33


Cindy Sherman, Untitled #92, 1981 (detail), chromogenic print, Courtesy of the Artist and Metro Pictures, New York

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34 BEATROUTE DECEMBER 2019


12.19

YVR

KEITHMAS:

The Ultimate Foodbank

Fundrager, Celebrates

Its 10th Anniversary

Shambhala

By YASMINE SHEMESH

By 2010, John Hewer and James Hayden had been putting

on weekly shows in Vancouver for a couple of years

already. To thank the bands that played with them, the

concert promoters decided to throw a Christmas party.

The holiday season, of course, happens to also fall near

another annual milestone: Keith Richards’ birthday, on

December 18. That, plus adding a charitable component

to donate 100% of proceeds to the Greater Vancouver

Food Bank — it was kind of perfect. So, they started

looking into bands to play the gig.

“A bunch of them got excited about it, so we got

excited.” Hewer says. “And that’s how it started. There

was no grand plan, put it that way. We had such a good

time doing it and it just felt good doing it. We immediately

started thinking about year two right after.”

That Keithmas raised about $800. Now celebrating

its 10th anniversary, it’s brought in over $65,000 for

the Food Bank. Hewer estimates the numbers will climb

towards 15 to 20 thousand this year. The event has

become a seriously anticipated tradition, with 10 local

bands performing Rolling Stones cuts that span all nooks

and sonic crannies of their near-six decadelong catalog.

This year features Frankiie and Bison, as well as the

Keithberries playing Chuck Berry’s “Run Rudolph Run,”

which Richards released as his debut solo single.

And, just like Keef himself, Keithmas continues to

carry on. The event is expanding to Calgary this month,

with bands like Napalmpom and the Rambling Ambassadors,

and benefitting the Calgary Food Bank. The Jack

Daniels will be flowing. As for what constitutes Keithmas’

longevity, Hewer credits both its charitable heart and its

resemblance a giant house party.

“The vibe in the room, from the first year we did, has

always been different from any kind of concert I’ve ever

been to,” he adds. “I think that maybe because it’s also

around Christmas, people are in a different frame of

mind. But everybody walks away feeling good. That’s the

main thing.”

December 14 / Rickshaw Theatre

VANCOUVER’S ESSENTIAL DECEMBER HAPPENINGSk

DECEMBER 2019 BEATROUTE 35


12.19YVRAGENDA

5 LOCAL

CRAFT

FAIRS

TO HIT

THIS

DECEMBER

Whether you’re tackling your

holiday gift list or just want

to treat yourself to a little

special something, you’ll find

everything you need and

more at these markets. And,

with each packed with local

vendors, shopping means

supporting your friendly

neighbourhood makers.

1. The Eastside Flea

December 1, 7, 8, 14, 15 / Eastside Studios

/ Tix: At Door

Happening throughout the year and

featuring some of Vancouver’s coolest

crafters, the ESF is always a good

bet. Alongside handmade items like

ceramics, you’ll find perfectly picked

vintage, plants, loose teas, and more.

Vegan food trucks and cute dogs are

on-site.

2. Make It Vancouver

December 11-15 / PNE Forum /

Tix: showpass.com

With 250 vendors selling handcraft

everything from organic soaps and

jewelry to pet accessories, you’ll be

hard pressed not to find a gift for

every person you know.

3. Holiday Market

& Slice Swap

December 7-15 / Slice of Life Gallery /

Tix: By Donation

Hit the Main Gallery for pottery, plants,

and screen prints. A clothing and art

supply swap, which can also be a

thrifty way to do your holiday shopping,

will be set up in the Solarium.

4. Subculture Market

December 14-15 / Pat’s Pub and

Brewhouse / Tix: Free

Think drinking horns, pins, comic

books, and boots all for under fifty

bucks. Stick around on the Saturday

for live performances from bands like

Digression and the Heavy End.

5. Weirdos Holiday

Market

December 14-15 / Holy Trinity Ukrainian

Orthodox Cathedral / Tix: At Door

Shop for deconstructed plastic dolls

and mystical altar pieces, get your

cards read, and pig out at the Rumpus

Room’s hog dog buffet.

Hall

ALL AGES/BEV Service for 19+

36 BEATROUTE DECEMBER 2019


TEACH ME A SONG

S

itting in her Muscogee Creek

language class, Elisa Harkins had

a thought: how could she carry

on this transfer of knowledge?

Something meant to be absorbed

slowly, especially in today’s fast-paced world?

In her first solo exhibition, Teach Me a Song, the

Native American artist engages in continuation

and preservation through special garments that

she created from a series of exchanges that

require time and attention: learning a song.

Harkins had three collaborators: Louis Gray,

an Osage elder who shared the American Indian

Movement anthem, “The AIM Song.” Mateo

Galindo, a Mexican American artist who taught

Harkins “Sunpit,” his own sci-fi guitar composition.

And Don Tiger, one of the last fluent speakers

of Muscogee Creek and Harkins’ language

teacher. His “No. 1 Sofke Sipper” features rattles

from turtle shell shakers.

After recording the songs, Harkins fashioned

an accompanying shoulder cover. “There’s a

lot of questioning and worrying about how to

do it correctly,” she reflects, on her process.

Harkins focused on examining certain elements

and contexts of each song. For “Sunpit,” she

contemplated what a shawl might resemble in a

dystopian future: a rayon puffy vest, with “Creator”

stitched onto a patch. For “The AIM Song,”

Harkins looked at early era photographs of the

movement. Noticing that many men and women

draped their shoulders with an upside-down

American flag — a sign of distress — she

emulated that and added fringe. Her turquoise

shawl for “No. 1 Sofke Sipper” came from her

own naming ceremony and includes Seminole

patchwork.

“The biggest thing that I’ve learned is you

have to give everyone time and space — [it was]

really important to this project,” Harkins says,

adding that she plans to continue the exchanges

through the future — and, indeed, their

transfer of knowledge.

Until February 15, 2020 / Western Front /

Tix: front.bc.ca

PLAYING

WITH FIRE

What comes to mind when you think

of clay? Arguably, we usually think of

domestic wares: mugs, plates, tiles.

But Playing with Fire, a new group

exhibition at the Museum of Anthropology,

expands on typical ideas

of functionality through compelling

works that use clay to comment on

the state of our world. The show

includes installations from 11 local

artists, each of which address things

such as racism, censorship, identity,

and social injustice. Ying-Yueh Chuang,

for example, creates patterns

in her work that convey hybridity

— a nod to both her Taiwanese and

Canadian cultures. Ian Johnston, on

the other hand, covers the walls of

a 25-foot-long room with repetitive

motifs to illustrate consumption of

manufactured goods.

Until March 29, 2020 / Museum of

Anthropology / Tix: At Door

STAY HOME

ALONE WITH

THE VSO

Home Alone’s twinkling theme song,

“Somewhere in My Memory,” is as

iconic as holiday classics like “Linus

and Lucy.” In fact, John Williams’ entire

original score to the 1990 film is magical

and an essential accompaniment

to Kevin McCallister’s slapstick battle

against the Wet Bandits — it was even

nominated for an Academy Award.

And no wonder: Williams, the genius

behind the music for E.T., Star Wars,

and Indiana Jones, is one of the most

brilliant composers of all time. This

December, the Vancouver Symphony

Orchestra brings his beloved seasonal

soundtrack to life, live alongside a

screening of the movie.

December 18, 20 / Orpheum Theatre /

Tix: vancouversymphony.ca

I’d Sure Love

To Call You My

Girlfriend

Matthew Sweet released Girlfriend in

1991, on the heels of his divorce. With its

infectious title track and pop ballads like

“Evangeline,” it became one of the most

essential breakup albums of the decade.

It only makes perfect sense that it’d be

adapted into a musical score. Taking the

same name as Sweet’s album, the story

follows the relationship between Will, a

social outcast, and Mike, a popular football

player, as they spend the summer after

graduation together. Will is openly gay,

but Mike is still coming to terms with his

sexuality. Sweet’s songs are not used in

the traditional musical sense, but rather

played on cassette tapes or the radio, and

add context to larger themes of first love,

acceptance, and what life means outside

the restraints of a Midwest high school. Already

a hit in the U.S., Girlfriend makes its

Canadian debut this month with Fighting

Chance Productions.

December 10-21 / THE NEXT /

Tix: fightingchanceproductions.ca

RIO

THEATRE

1660 EAST BROADWAY

DEC

7

DEC

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DEC

JAN

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DECEMBER 2019 BEATROUTE 37


12.19YVRMUSIC

The Cheat Sheet BR PICKS THE 5 ESSENTIAL LIVE VANCOUVER MUSIC SHOWS

HIPHOPR&B

ROCK

PUNK

METAL

INDIE

1

HOCKEY DAD

Sun, Dec. 8 at Biltmore Cabaret

The atmospheric garage-rock

sounds of Hockey Dad are ice cold.

Take a slap-shot on listening to this

duo for a pleasant pucking surprise.

2

VANCOUVER SLEEP CLINIC

Mon, Dec. 9 at Biltmore Cabare

Known for their otherworldly, downtempo

ambiance, Vancouver Sleep

Clinic will certainly have you dreaming

at this soon to be sold-out show.

3

ANGEL OLSEN

Tues. Dec. 10 at the Orpheum

This singer-songwriter from North

Carolina will submerge you in melodrama

with her downtrodden vocals

and indie-rock meets art-pop style.

4

CATFISH AND

THE BOTTLEMEN

Wed, Dec. 11 at Vogue Theatre

Tying together elements of punk,

grunge, and indie rock, this eclectic

group hits harder than their band

name would suggest.

5

MODERN DAZE

Sat, Dec. 21 at Roxy

Get washed in twilight-euphoria

as this band’s hazy mix of funky,

synth-infused chill-rock brings you

down to earth.

1

RAYGUN COWBOYS

Sat, Dec. 7 at Pat’s Pub

Get yer smokes, yer gin, and yer

spurs-spinnin’, as this group of

old-western punks are comin’ in

saddles blazin’ for a good time.

2 GOON

Mon, Dec. 09 at KW Studios

Vibrant and reckless, this group

mixes elements of grunge and

shoegaze to create a disruptively

artful experience.

3

THE TARLEKS

Fri, Dec. 13 at LanaLous

These old-school rebels want to

wish you a pop-punk Christmas

by playing a selection of distorted

Christmas Carols mixed with original

classics.

4

THE DREADNOUGHTS AND

CHAD HATES GEORGE

Sat, Dec. 14 at Astoria

A uniting of folk-punks and crustpunks,

this show will have you

dancing amidst a wild crowd of

various fashions and aromas. This

is bound to be a wild one.

5

A VERY PUNK

ROCK XMAS

Sat, Dec. 21 at The Heatley

Featuring acoustic sets by members

of Rong, the Corps, and Russian Tim

and the Pavel Bures, this is a unique

chance to see some of Vancouver’s

top punk rockers in an intimate,

stripped down, Yule-tide setting.

1 EXPAIN

Sat, Dec. 7 at Rickshaw Theatre

Vancouver’s very own melodic

death metal outfit aims to decimate

the Rickshaw with their machine

gun riffs and lightning speed leads.

2 HELLYEAH

Sun, Dec. 8 at Imperial

Their first tour since the unfortunate

passing of their drummer,

heavy metal legend Vinnie Paul,

this Pantera-Mudvayne supergroup

aims to pay a heavy tribute to their

fallen brother.

GROSS MISCONDUCT

Fri, Dec. 13 at Astoria

3

This BC-based group of death

metallers live up to their name by

unleashing disgustingly heavy riffs.

4 STATIC X

Sun, Dec. 15 at Rickshaw

In honour of the “evil disco” pioneer,

Wayne Static, the original members

of this industrial metal outfit pay

homage to one of the genres most

influential figures 5 years after his

passing.

5 BATUSHKA

Tues, Dec. 17 at Rickshaw

Whether you’re a headbanger or

a yogi, this meditative doom metal

band is fit for both a mosh pit and

vinyasa.

1

RYAN CARAVEO

Thurs, Dec. 12 at Fortune Sound Club

Two worlds collide when this young

Seattle artist introduces downtempo

hip hop to vibrant dream

pop. His vibe will induce you with

emotional ecstasy.

2

LEE FIELDS AND THE

EXPRESSIONS

Fri, Dec. 13 at Rio Theatre

A modern take on 70s soul-funk,

this soul-brother will douse you

with a hearty serving of sexysmooth

R&B.

3

WINTER BREAKOUT 2019

Fri, Dec. 13 at Pacific Coliseum

Headlined by hip-hop titan Schoolboy

Q, Winter Breakout is making

a valiant effort on becoming a

staple festival for the genre on the

west coast.

4

CARTEL MADRAS

Thurs, Dec. 19 at Fortune Sound Club

This Sub Pop signed hip-hop duo

is no force to be reckoned with.

Featuring sisters Contra and Eboshi,

these Calgarian prodigies are

here to traffic nothing but dope

rhymes and bumpin’ beats.

5

LIL KEED

Fri, Dec. 20 at Venue

This Young Thug lo-fi protege

has already landed a spot on the

Billboard charts. He is looking to

mumble rap his way to the top.

EDM

1

MAGIC SWORD

Fri, Dec. 13 at Venue

Dance music meets metal meets

Lord of the Rings, this ominous

group will use their 6-string magic

swords to turn Venue into a fantasy-world

dance club.

2

SHIBA SAN

Sat, Dec. 14 at M.I.A.

This house-music mastermind from

France will cast a spell on you with

his hypnotic beats.

3

FUNK THE HALLS

Fri, Dec. 20 at Commodore Ballroom

Vancouver’s Funk Hunters look to

vibe their audience with some dank

homegrown, holiday grooves.

4

THE LIBRARIAN

Thurs, Dec. 26 at Fortune Sound Club

Bringing her deep, Shambhala

vibes into an intimate setting, the

Librarians atmospheric bass beats

will have you saying anything but

“shh.”

5

CONTACT FESTIVAL

Fri, Dec. 27 at BC Place

Western Canada’s largest winter

EDM festival, this year’s Contact

landed some major headlines

including Tiesto, Major Lazer, Kaskade,

and Rezz.

38 BEATROUTE DECEMBER 2019


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2019 Wrapped

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