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THANK YOU TO____________________ Our loyal readers who have been here for our evolution as a publication. We are so thankful to have you all invest your time into the arts and forever appreciate you.



















What sort of themes do you like to explore in your music? Is there one that you are particularly most passionate about and find is written about most often? Love and reasons why i’m terrible at it comes up a lot. It’s all true to my life, growing up, finding out that the world is actually quite terrible, but holding on to the beautiful bits in between. When it comes to images and symbols what do you think best represents the idea of Brand New Friend? Great question, I think we sound like a polaroid. Maybe like a warm summer’s evening. Maybe you’re with your mates playing football in the park just as the sun is beginning to go down. Or you’re on a beach and playing rounders with your family & decide to just jump in the water before it get’s too dark. Then there’s the long walk back to your car knowing something is over forever. It’s the whole spectrum of being alive!


How do you feel that your hometown has lended to you pursuing music and creating this art? My sister Lauren and I come from a tiny fishing village called Castlerock on the North Coast of Northern Ireland and without it our band might be very different. It’s a place that will forever hold beautiful memories for us, we’d write songs on the beach and our first gig was in the pub at the end of our road. Those people made us who we are, they constantly inspire us to try and make them proud. How do you feel writing music differs with Lauren being a classically trained musician? Do things usually remain on instinct or is there always that element of technical proficiency in the back of your minds? It’s all actually all 100% instinct. We’re not perfectionists, if it feels right, it stays in. If it feels anything other than class, we bin it. Lauren’s genius helps, but thankfully she never holds it over the rest of us!

Even more specifically, with your art work for “I Was An Astronaut,” you use this really nostalgic and playful looking image. What was it about this image and idea that really spoke to you? Is this the sort of thing that you want to create to encapsulate most of the work that you put out? Thanks so much! I actually just snapped that on my phone while we were shooting the music video! I just thought it was cool. The kid astronaut is our little brother Evan, so it’s sweet to have him on it. I wanted the picture to have Mussenden Temple in the background, it’s a Castlerock landmark built in 1785 by some famous Duke. The couple walking in the distance have no idea they’re in the picture, but they were walking a really beautiful dog.

What do you feel having family members in your band with you affects the dynamic of everything, whether it’s writing music, or setting off on tours? It’s just cool, Lauren is my mate. It’s no different to anything, except we can be really honest about everything to each other. It’s our band’s greatest strength.


In the few years that you have been playing and writing music together as Brand New Friend, what are some important lessons that you have learned? Always trust your gut. If a song doesn’t make you feel something it’s not worth having. Money is never more important than the music. Family comes first. Always have spare picks in your back pocket. Always be grateful. Thank the sound engineers and promoters for their time and effort. Don’t tell a crowd the Vengaboys have sold more records than the band they’ve paid money to come see. Don’t tell a crowd the headliners are doing class A drugs back stage. Don’t swear live on Radio 1. Don’t tell Sean Paul to fuck off. Don’t ever think you’ve made it. Do hang out with people at your gigs. Do follow your heart. Back in April you released your debut record, Seatbelts for Aeroplanes. How long had you been working on this release? What kind of narratives were you exploring on this record? It’s a concept record in many ways, chronicling my first ever relationship, beginning to end. It’s about falling in love, making huge mistakes, fixing them, making it worse and in the end just trying to remember who you are underneath everything. We never thought it would come out, they were all demos picked up by our label. We recorded 20 songs in 3 days. Picked 13 and went for it. It was rushed, a snapshot in time.


What do you hope people get when they see one of your live performances? I hope they feel a comfort in it. We get you, you’ll never figure it out completely, but neither have we. We get you mate. What are some of your main goals for 2019? What should people be expecting to hear from you next? We want to keep touring and release a new record. We all lost our jobs to go on this tour, we have very little money left. So more of the same please. As you were.


For many living in Central Canada the winters are exhaustingly long. Especially in the city of Calgary people who have lived here through a winter understand that we suffer very fickle weather. One day it will be snowing, blizzard, cold as heck, and then the next day your head will be in pain from the Chinook and be blinded by the sun. That’s something that we keep in mind and often find little reason to leave our houses. That is with the exception of Big Winter Classic. Created in 2013, the beginnings of Big Winter Classic harboured as a cure for the Stampede, an event that happened right alongside the city’s famous July event. Within two years, it would adapt and evolve into becoming its name-sake. Big Winter Classic is an indoor as well as outdoor music festival that happens in the middle of winter. It’s a weekendlong event for people to brave the cold and enjoy huddling together and enjoying local musical acts as well as several other artists that are set up to play. We were lucky enough to take some time with Adrian Urlacher, one of the main founders of the whole event to discuss all of the amazing things that this festival brings to the city as well as highlights what Central Canada has to offer. With a small team, completely volunteer based, he works all year long. “It’s a passion project,” he acknowledges but one that he knows to be necessary to the Beltline of Calgary. For those unfamiliar with the city, there is a strip of downtown Calgary that was once seen full of life. With venues such as Electric Avenue giving artists a stage to play in the core of the city, it has always been an integral part of the city. A lot of the core is full of white-collar workers, but

once upon a time there was a little more on this strip. It was an artistic hub, it was a destination place. Once Electric Avenue shut down there just was not as much to go by. Maybe Broken City, but even then it’s a little off the Beltline and is not expect to be able to uphold the artistic ventures that the Beltline used to pull. That’s where Adrian saw an opportunity to change that and bring something back for the community. Working in non-tradtional venue spaces, Adrian had a vision to have Last Best Brewery get involved. He went in to talk to the management about the possibility, really highlighting what it could do for the community, even just over the weekend. He was met with hesitency but the drive, passion, and vision ultimately helped him pull through and get a yes from the brewery. Bike racks we’re set up in front of the venue to help people get from one location to the next and in 2015 Big Winter Classic was able to have it’s first big show there and kick off what would be their most loyal venue, highly represented venue. It is venues such as these that are a saving Grace to the later nights of the festival. Calgary being the city of fickle weather you never know if you are going to be able to wear shorts in February or if your lucky finding heat left in your jacket. This winter passion project enabled patio shows in an unexpected time of year. These shows used to run late and as long as the line-up is right there are always going to be people there. Adrian does note that they no longer do the patio shows after 11 PM. It should not surprise you to find out that a large goal of Big Winter Classic is to tap

into a bunch of other communities. They work collectively with their own community and also extend out into other reaches of music and art. They even have a Big Studio that displays an art gallery that finds a unique display each year with the local LGBTQ+ community. This year the collaboration came up with displaying work on a chain link fence in the venue. Even further into their collaboration with art, Big Winter Classic holds a bit of a submission competition to have artist’s work displayed on the beer cans for the event of the festival. It all comes down to a voting process that selects a new artist for each year. Adrian comments on how in 10 years he can see these cans being something of a collectable item, unique to each year that there were released on. Big Winter Classic, as well as it’s counterpart Big Slam are worked on all year round. The intimate and dedicated volunteer team of twelve members find ways to make their own money for the festival without writing grants. “We were told we’ll never make money, and now we are only going up,” Adrian is happy to say. After Big Winter Classic is complete there’s a grace period of roughly two weeks before the gears are back in focus for their summer event. They need to stay connected throughout the full year and keep up to date with the different cultures revolving around the local scene. There’s a few stand out shows in the last couple of years for Adrian. He does note that his music taste is a little all over the place but that it does not take away from how brilliant these performances are and

were. Bands such as Jawbreaker have performed at the festival as well as Teva Lightfoot. Even this past year he has flown in a ground from California. There’s always going to be a little bit of everything as well as a lot of unique performances for the winter festival. In the next 5 years Adrian would love to see Big Winter Classic as a sustainable event. It would be something that revitalizes the mentality of Electric Avenue and act as a cultural brand for the community. It is meant to show off the qualities of this part of the Beltline and differentiate it from other parts of the city. He would love to see an even bigger outdoor stage on top of their outdoor patio and even find some bigger bands, filling up those 200 capacity rooms. While you may have missed out on the festivities of Big Winter Classic there is still time to check out their summer event, Big Slam. It’s rare that you find people as dedicated as Adrian and his team to put themselves on the line to bring this kind of joy to a whole community. For now, keep a look out for the events happening with Big Slam and be sure to be on the look out for when Big Winter Classic. Comes back again in 2020.


Working digitally, where do you end up finding most of the images that you collage together? What does this routine typically look like for you? I appropriate images I find online and then I deconstruct and insert them into a new context. I browse the internet daily looking for new images. Are all of your pieces done digitally or is there also some form of analog as well? Do you have any formal background in art or design? What was a starting point for you to get involved with it on a serious level? I have a journalism degree but I never took art classes. When it comes to art I’m an autodidact. I’ve been working with digital collage for three years. Things happened in a very spontaneous way. At first working with digital collage was a way to express my feelings and then after a while it turned into something more professional.

Sometimes I crop, scan, and use images from magazines in some collages. But most of my work is done only with digital techniques. Do you tend to have an idea of the final product before putting everything together or is it a slow build of trial and error? Sometimes I come across a random idea and I work on it for a while. Most of the time, though, my work follows a more intuitive process. I cut and paste images until I get the composition perfect. 

Are there any particular themes that you find yourself drawn into creating? What sort of narrative or feeling do you often find yourself portraying in your different images? I am focused mainly on human beings and their deepest feelings, such as their melancholies, seclusions, neuroses, sorrows, desires and anxieties.Â

What is it about collage specifically that you are attracted to? I don’t have a gift for drawing or painting by hand. Therefore, working with collage was the answer I found to express myself. I enjoy the idea of moving images into different contexts. It creates a new “reality”. How do you feel that living and working in Brazil has inspired your work and lead you into the direction that you are now? Brazil does not inspire, it only disappoints me. I like to think my art is universal. After all, despite different nationalities and cultures, we are all still human, sharing the same feelings and emotions regardless where we come from. 

How do you find you approach commissioned work versus when you are doing something straight from your mind? Working on demand means that my freedom is more limited. In my personal work, though, the only person I need to please is myself. Are there any particular ideas that you are most proud of compiling together? I never imagined I would be recognized as an artist. I am proud of that.  Where are you hoping to see some of your work in the future? I’d like to see my work in people’s houses. 

JEFF WHALEN Tell us a little bit about the idea of Bubbleglam. What elements of your work makes it Bubbleglam? I dunno! Genre definitions are weird and slippery. Bubbleglam is a kind of modern bubblegum/glam combo, I think? But kind of in a power pop context? Like early Sweet or maybe T. Rex, but with a smidge of Bay City Rollers? Maybe some Kenny in there? “Magic” by Pilot? Like something you’d see on Top of the Pops in 1973—bright colors, fun, presenting a pop view of the world. But the modern version of that. A lot of this is just feelings and associations, rather than actual rules or anything specific, but I’d say for me, Bubbleglam means pop songs with hooks and harmonies and optimism and talking a lot about colors and animals and counting and magic and music and girls.

How do you feel that being from Los Angeles has helped you in your ventures as a musician? Probably the main thing that was helpful about being from LA was that after the money from my first record contract ran out, I was able to move in with my parents and still stay in town. Are there particular themes that you like to stick with when writing music? What are some of your favourite ideas to play around with? I think a lot of what I do is kind of based on the feelings I get from listening to music, or watching a pop star do their thing and imagining what they must be feeling, or being a fan and having that mean something to me. A lot of what I end up writing about is other rock songs, seeing how they bounce around my soul or whatever. I don’t really do that intentionally or anything, it’s just kinda what happens.

What are some of your favourite elements of the world of music in general? I guess my favorite thing about pop music is that if you need it to mean something to you, it can. If you need it to be the most important thing in the world, it will do that for you. You can demand so much from it and, over and over again, it will not let you down. Talk with us a little bit specifically with 10 More Rock Super Hits. What were some of your favorite moments on this record? How long have you been comprising all of the tracks together? There’s lots of little things I like a lot, but probably my favorite moment on the record is when the strings build up to the first bridge in “Soylent Blue.” Or some of the touches in “Goofing Around.” The motorcycle at the beginning. It’s hard to separate the experience of making the record from the record itself, so I dunno. Those were some of the moments that were kind of triumphant in the studio and I’m definitely remembering those studio moments when I listen back to the record. As far as the songs, a couple were written back in the day—one I wrote in college— but most of them were written leading up to tracking. Linus of Hollywood, who produced the record, and I had planned on starting recording after he got back from a short European tour, so I had like four weeks to get it together. I had enough already-written songs to fall back on if I couldn’t write any new-new ones, but going into recording, you want to have the momentum of fresh stuff, so I went full hunker and wrote most of them in those weeks. I really enjoyed the recording process, but I have a lot of fondness for that writing period as being pretty special. When it comes to things such as music videos, how do you feel they lend themselves to your songs? I wish my band Tsar had made more videos, for sure. These days, it’s so much easier to make videos, and I bet we could’ve made some good ones for the first Tsar record. As it is, we didn’t make any.

For this record, we’ve made two so far, “Jendy!” and “The Alien Lanes.” (“The Alien Lanes” will be released pretty soon.) I don’t know if it’s the same for a lot of bands, but I find that my own videos definitely influence how I see the songs. As if I were a listener. Record covers do that as well, kinda frame how I experience the record, even if it’s my own record. I wonder if that’s true of other bands? I’ve never really thought about that before With Jendy! specifically, using these old archival video clips, how do you feel these nostalgic black and white scenes really lended to the song? What do you think was one of the most successful uses of the clips combined with the song? The “Jendy!” video came out of us trying to do something really fast and get it out there, so we thought, let’s just use public domain video. I wasn’t even supposed to be in it at first. And then I was just gonna be in it for a second, and then it just kinda got bigger and bigger. I think there’s a kind of innocence that comes across in the old footage, maybe? Or the appearance of innocence, anyway. The scenes of chaos and fire and floods and whatnot towards the end, juxtaposed with this happy, smiling thing work pretty good, I think. All of that was Thad Bridwell, the director’s, idea. What do you hope that people get from your live performance? A t-shirt. What should people be expecting from you next? I have a couple new projects—not solo, but new bands—that are in the mixing stage. I think people who like Tsar or 10 More Rock Super Hits will dig it. One is kind of a late-60s/early-90s rock/pop thing and the other is super-duper bubblegum. I’m pretty excited about both records. And then I think I’ll get a chili dog.


Out of New Jersey, comes Dieter Unrath. He’s a multi-talented freelance photographer that specializes in live music photography while still venturing into a lot more than the section of the medium. On top of that, he also drums in his own band, Glume. While right now, you most likely know him for his photography, it’s the local scene and Dieter’s time spent with music that even got him involved in the photography world. “It kind of just happened. When I graduated High School I got a cheap DSLR for a graduation gift. I didn’t really use it until four or five years ago, now. I was in a different band at the time and we were playing a lot of local shows. I decided to take it with me to take some [photos] and everyone really liked the photos that I took, were posting them, and I had a lot of fun with it ... It was a lot more fun than just watching the shows,” He explains how the door became available to him finally adding, “Four

months after I shot my first show, I went on my first tour. It happened quickly.” In many ways, this answers the question of Dieter’s formal training as a photographer – there is none. Rather, he was able to learn working on the spot, whatever YouTube could offer, and through his own drive and passion in the medium and the music. Right now instead of photography Dieter has returned to school for communications, something that he had attempted at a community college a few years ago but due to touring was in and out too frequently. With him being at the end of a four year bachelors in the Communications program he notes that he is starting up again, actually that, “My first day of class was yesterday and I skipped the first week of class for this tour ... It’s whatever. I don’t even know what i am going to do with my degree at

this point.” For now, the degree serves to having a piece of paper, proving that he went to post-secondary, but Dieter is quite laid back about the whole thing, allowing him to do what feels right as it comes by. Being a musician himself, Dieter has found little things here or there that help him with different shots. He notes that knowing rhythm, especially as a drummer, helps with moments like the “jump shot” and shooting on the down beat, “Photography is all about timing and music is all about timing. If you have good timing from a music perspective then you will have good timing in photography.” For Dieter, it’s easy to relate to things such as how he would want to be presented in an image and the angles he knows that he would feel best in. It makes it easier to pick and choose shots that were taken as well as setting them up. Even when he is shooting he tends to bob his head along, immersing into the music and feeling out the shot rather than just watching for it. “I like them both in different ways, I look the process of photography a lot more,” Dieter started off after being asked if there was one artistic practice he preferred over the other, “You’re sort of jut in the background documenting, you aren’t completely involved ... But when it comes to playing music it’s more of an in the moment thing. Nothing compares to playing a show for 30 minutes. All the energy and aggression you just let out.” It is in this way that he feels like he’s getting more out of the art over all. For almost 4 years now, Dieter has had the same gear and set up, happy with what images it helps him establish. With a Canon 6D as a body and a Sigma 24 1.4 as a lens he’s happy cranking up the ISO and using all the capabilities the camera offers. “Some


of it is because I haven’t been able to afford new hear,” He laughs. On top of that he work on Lightroom to edit the final touches of images. For a moment, he tries to think of different things that help him create the images that he’s proud of, something a little outside of the technical stuff. “I feel like in order to get good photos I need a band with energy. Not that I can’t get good photos of bands that are relaxed on stage but for me to really like my work I need bands that have a lot of energy to work with ... A fun band is what I need.” He smiles while also noting how great the band he currently was on tour is (at the time being Capstan). “I have no fucking idea,” Dieter responded when asked about goals,whether it be end goals or something more short term. “I kind of just fell into this, starting taking photos and rolled with it. I still feel like that now, even though I’ve been shooting for almost 5 years. I feel like I am just kind of chilling and pressing buttons, going with the flow, takin one opportunity at a time.” In some ways, he is at a cross roads, can continue with college and follow a relatively normal life, or he can continue the sort of life that he is living now with a lot of touring and living day-to-day. Ultimately, it’s not something he is overly stressed on, “The band that I am on tour with now, Capstan, I’d love to continue touring with them. I think that may be a play after I graduate college ... Specific goals is sort of to survive and make money off of my photos. If I could live purely off my photography I guess that would be my goal.”

HOLDING ABSENCE Out of Cardiff, Wales comes post-hardcore band Holding Absence. On the rise in Europe, their melodic sound has trickled into the playlists of people internationally, exciting people for their upcoming self-titled record. Now, with the record being released as of March 8th, we were able to catch up with vocalist, Lucas Woodland and discuss the new record.

Talk to us about your debut self-titled record. How long have you been holding onto these songs for? We’ve spent a long time working in this record! Writing for it began over 2 years ago now, so it’s been a very long time in the making.

How was the recording process for you? Recording this record took a long time too! We began tracking in January 2018 and finished it in September 2018. I do think this really helps add an interesting flavour and longevity to the album - The tones and atmospheres feel different as the album progresses.

In terms of themes, what sort of subject matter did you explore on the record? Was there any prominent over arching theme to it all?

As for music videos, do you find that your music videos are meant to speak to the songs specifically, or is it more of a piece of art on its own?

A key part of our band is the lyrics - I put a lot of time, effort and emotion into my lyrics - So when faced with the task of writing an entire album I knew I had to put way more thought in. I had more time to mould the imagery and narrative of the album, which I think really helped benefit the record! As for specific themes, the album is primarily about love, but it delves into the deep corners of the emotion - The elation, the tragedy, the death of love, and all the details affected by it too. I feel like a did a good job of keeping the imagery and lyrical pallet quite fresh throughout too, which was something I was very conscious of.

A mix of both really! We like to let the videos stand on their own too legs and not be too literal, whilst also taking inspiration from the songs themselves.

Would you say that choosing the black and white imagery is important to the idea behind Holding Absence? 100%. This helped us create a universe for our music from the very beginning. Back when we only had 2 songs, we had very little for people to believe in. I really think our aesthetic from day 1 helped paint the picture. We also like to think the black & white vibe will help us look back on our photos and videos in years to come and help add a more timeless vibe to everything. With the exception of this lack of this “colouring,” what sort of images and ideas do you think are representative of you all as a group? Most of our imagery is quite ambiguous - We like to leave our lyrics up to interpretation so that people can really allow their hearts to choose what the music means to them. Speaking specifically to your album art, what is it about this image that makes you feel that it encompasses your music from Holding Absence? Once again, it’s very open to interpretation. The artwork could mean anything or nothing and we like to leave that up to the listener. On a personal level, the artwork references some important themes throughout the record, but like I said, they’re not too blatant.

What meaning does the logo of the moth represent for you? Duality is an important part of our band. The love, the death. The happiness and the sadness. The light and the dark. We like to think the moth introduces people to that straight away and let’s them know that this band isn’t about sitting in the middle. We explore every avenue we can Sonically and emotionally. Did you ever expect the sort of reactions such as people getting tattoos dedicated to you guys? No way whatsoever - When the first few people got HA tattoos we were shocked but it’s become quite a big part of our fanbase now! We love it because it shows that these people really, really believe in us, and that’s super inspiring to us. What do you hope that people get out of seeing your live performance? Our live show is integral to our bands existence. We sweat and pour so much of ourselves into the show. On a personal level, we love making music and really lose ourselves up there. On a band level, I like to think that all-or-nothing attitude really adds weight to the lyrics and let people know that these songs really do mean something to us. What should people be expecting next from you? Lots and lots of shows, and then lots more music. We hope to repeat that for the whole of our bands lifespan as it’s what we do best.


Tell us a bit about your opportunity to merge your passion for painting in your every day life? It’s been over 2 years now that I’ve been able to paint and explore my passion full time completely detached from any sort of day job. One sort of philosophy I’ve always believed in, is to treat your day job with optimism and view it as a platform to launch you into your true passion. A Dream or passion without a solid plan can quickly become a nightmare if you just dive head first. Finally reaching this transition into where my passion now consumes at least 8 hours of my every day life is a glorious thing, but with it comes a whole new set of pressures and anxiety. Being a husband and father of 3 forces me to be extremely intentional with my time and I love that my kids get to see me pursue my passion on a daily basis.

When you first started painting, what sort of imagery were you most drawn to? What eventually lead you into the types of scenes that you create today? The initial spark for me to create was fostered through music. A hobby of mine was to sit for hours and try to re create a melody on the piano by ear. Then once I started getting serious about painting I started painting scenes of my musician friends in a very folksy aesthetic. That was short lived however, and eventually the vast landscape became my obsession. This obsession slowly pieced together after a trip to Rwanda Africa. That adventure or experience was packed full of so much emotion and exposure to another culture that what came out creatively was my first ever landscape painting.

What kind of objects as well as materials do you like to keep in your studio space? These would be both your favourite things that you used regularly in your painting routine or different objects that spark some form of inspiration or push for you.

My walls are always filled with potential. I have to always have blank panels staring back at me in my space and almost taunting me in a way. An empty studio effects my inspiration levels for sure. Of course my studio is full of ideas taped up on the walls and potential painting titles or show titles everywhere. My kids are always in and out of the studio as well bringing life and laughter to the space. I’m not going to lie though, it can def get frustrating too. haha. Also, I have to have audible books / spotify/ and podcasts readibly accessible to me. In regards to practical objects, I recently purchased large tool chest with pull out drawers and glass on top for my palette. Each drawer is organized and packed full of paints and brushes. When my studio space is too dis functional or just a wreck it distracts me.

You also work in graphic design. Is there any cross over with your painting and your graphic design? How do you feel you are able to separate the mental structure for the two? Anytime you are designing you are sharpening your eye and gaining experience in good layout or composition. So in that regard I have found some crossover which has helped technically. Stylistically I guess I’ve never really noticed a similarity and in fact, feel that they are completely separate worlds. My last day job was at Warner Music designing merchandise for their roster of Country/ Mainstream artists and the biggest challenge was coming home to then transition into fine art . It was so taxing on me creatively and most of the time I was not creating for myself. These days I still freelance, but have cut way back on what clients I design for, which allows for me to focus more on my true passion of painting. How do you feel that you approach working in large scale versus when you are working on a smaller canvas? My work has always been about atmosphere and drawing the viewer in to sort of force them to feel something. Working on larger paintings has always been my comfort zone leaving space for larger brush work and expressive mark making. The scale itself contributes immensely to what I’m trying to accomplish and so I find it translates well. When approaching smaller works it’s sometimes like trying to fit a whole chapter in a book into a 140 character tweet. Sometimes the approach is to be less vague and more dialed in or focused on the marks and colors.

What sort of themes do you find that you end up exploring inside of your paintings? Someone wrote recently, that my paintings remind them of the uncontrolled thoughts and feelings swirling about in our minds. My work is always about the mood or feeling a scene can evoke in the viewer. Being that I’m mostly a landscape painter it can be hard to narrow in on a certain theme, but I’d say that a broad consistent theme in my work has centered around the exploration of our thoughts and emotions at different seasons of our life. When do you feel that it is most necessary to add human elements to your paintings? Here is a great example of when I feel like adding a figure into the work is a must for me. This past year I’ve struggled a little bit with letting anxiety creep in when dealing with fatherhood. With each new stage there is a constant loosening of the grip you could say. It’s so important to allow them to fail and gain confidence in themselves through independence. Sometimes my fears can get in the way of that healthy release and when I want to explore that in my artwork there has to be a human element involved.

What are some particularly landscapes, views, and places that you have travelled where you have felt particularly overwhelmed with the beauty or inspired to create something in the future?

Growing up in West Virginia the mountains were literally my backyard. Whenever I return to the mountains or do anything outdoors related it fuels my creativity. Before having kids a big part of my life was traveling over seas or being on a tour bus traveling all over the US. Two locations that really stand out in regards to having feelings of being overwhelmed or inspired would have to be Haiti and Africa.

What is something that you often find telling other people when they inquire about your artistry on a general level? Each of us have a story and to me your story and where you came from is a big part of why you do what you do. So I always find myself telling a bit of my story to relate on a human level and then go into the work. It’s common that I refer to my work as trying to find beauty and honesty in the simplistic scenes that surround us. Most everyone can connect on some level to the ocean or the vast landscape and so I hope that my paintings can spark inspiration in others.

Where do you hope to see your work in the next couple of years? Constantly evolving and surprising me. As long as I keep showing up and creating then it’s inevitable that growth happens. With every season of my career I hope to keep pressing forward and gaining new knowledge that can stay stored in my mental tool box. Hopefully 2 years from now I’m creating something new that I could not have seen coming.


LIVING WITH LIONS ______________

It had been seven years since Living With Lions released a new record before we were able to hear their autumn release, Island. Many people were anticipating new music from them also with understanding that it would never come as soon as they would want with all of the members having their hearts in other bands a well. But with this particular record there seemed to be a series of circumstances that lead to even further push-back. Some songs met their conception four or five years ago before being completely reconstructed into something for what would become the final state of Island. We were lucky enough to meet up with vocalist, Chase Brennerman and talk a little bit about the process as well as different elements that incorporated themselves into the record and its visuals.

“When we started writing those songs it was to be more pro-active, to start working on a record at some point,” Chase jumped in immediately, “Flash forward three or four years when we are needing to be putting out a record, all of a sudden it’s writing songs with a little bit more of a purpose.” Different tracks such as “Second Arrows” had been kicking around for the band. It was a time where things were a lot looser before the members of Living With Lions really felt the need to start pushing for another full-length. When asked how things changed from when some of the songs had first been written Chase stated that, “As far as lyrical thing go, a lot of shit will transpire in that period of time. When it all came down to us putting the record together last year we were all together hearing it. That always kind of changes the way we are writing these songs.” Typically, the band would come together and build from an idea that someone would have but now with everything living in different parts of Western Canada it becomes a little more difficult to do. Guitarist, Landon Matz, lives in Calgary and has to find two weeks at a time to fly out to Vancouver so that they can get everything together. Now it just makes more sense to evolve everything like a stream-line approach. “Before we’d have good and bad days where, In the good days, we’d come to the jam space with an idea and we’d hang out a song. It’d work out really well. Or there’d be bad days where we’d have an idea for a song and bang out heads off of the wall and be really mad at each other. A lot of the time it’s the bad days,” He laughs lightly. There’s actually a lot that differed the Island process from everything else, for one, Chase had never written vocals for a full-length record before. “I have written vocals for a lot of Living With Lions songs in the past but it’d only be fore 2 or whatever songs the record was and


Matt would do the rest.” Even listening to the record you can hear a bit more of an element of seriousness in their writing. In the past, there was a lot of focuses on relationships with people but even Chase admits that it may not be in the same kind of impactful way the experiences that lead to this record were. “I feel the best stuff I write is when I am writing about stuff that makes me angry, even if it’s kind of mean. Over the course of writing this record, we had a friend that went to rehab and that was a sobering experience. You realize it’s kind of a possibility but then when you realize it’s happening to someone close to you [it’s then] you realize how serious it could become.” The title track, showed exactly this story of their experiences with this friend. But it was not just this devastation that came about, “My uncle passed away too at one point. My aunt and uncle were my closest family that I have other than my parents and sister ... I know people who have to deal with much worse stuff than that but it was the first time I had to deal with something like that. It was totally unexpected and a strange experience to go through, and sad obviously.” With all the events that transpired it just came naturally that the record would touch up on a lot more serious topics and themes than it previously had. “It took us a really long time to do, which is unfortunate,” Chase continues, “It’s the first time we’ve done a record completely on our own.” Ever since the beginning of Living With Lions they had been lucky enough to work on a label and had other people involved in what ever content they would create. As far as the timeline goes,

their budget was completely on their own without anyone else flipping the bill and asking for them to get it done in a specific time line. This time, it was completely up to the core members of the band, “I don’t know if we should be proud of it, but we had to put all the money up for it and produce it, work on the sons on our own, seeing the whole process through. With five guys at this time working full-time, having other serious obligations, it was fucking hard to do, to be honest. Once the record was done, packaged and pressed, it was a pretty good feeling. I wish it had been done sooner, and I think about that, but I guess it wouldn’t have turned out the same either. You just kind of have to accept it.” When it comes to art work, Living With Lions always puts a lot of thought into what they want to come out of it. For Island specifically they wanted a dye-cut record, and to do something with collage. Their friend, Soft Circuit in Vancouver ended up coming through with the final design but much like the record itself, there was a bit of a journey before they got to the final product that they are more than thrilled with. “We ended up constantly hiring an artist and them quitting because it was too ambitious of a project. And then Soft Circuit ran with it.” The different rooms in the building are meant to mirror different ideas of songs off of the record and Soft Circuit put a lot of work to ensure that it would work on this level, as well as tricking the mind into not realizing what you are seeing at first. Ultimately, it came off interesting, warm, and cohesive, exactly the way that the band had wanted it to be.

Album artwork is not the only thin that Living With Lions has spent a lot of time on when it comes to visuals. With videos such as “Tidal Wave,” you can see the literal drawn work that they put into everything. Originally, they had filmed this music video not completely satisfied with how it came out. They knew that they wanted to salvage the video and that was when their videographer friend, Cody Fennel, came up with the idea of painting on the frames. So that was what they ended up doing. The video was broken down into 10 frames per-second, the images being printed out and hand drawn and painted on. While it was Chase that did a fair majority of the frames they had other artist friends come and help them out as well as the band and their old vocalist, Stu Ross, add it it all as well. With everything being at Chase’s house he couldn’t escape the task but any time anyone was over and just sort of hanging out, it became a thing for them to do and work on. “It was 22,000 pieces of paper. I think it was a more rewarding process and obviously is something I’m proud of ... But I’d never do that again.” Now with the record done, out and shared with the world, the group intends to do some more touring. There’s no real solidified plans but already they are discussing writing more songs and play as many shows that they possibly can, possibly even venture to Europe. “We aren’t trying to be a big successful band, but at the same time why would we not do it if we like doing it? It’s rare to have 4 or 5 friends that you like to play music with.”



Talk with us a bit about your beginnings as a visual artist and photographer. Did you receive any formal education? How long have you been practicing photography? My name’s Paolo Barretta, AKA, I am Winter. Well, there is a lot to say about me, because I have always been so full of things inside. I approached photography when I was really young, but it wasn’t the first thing I started doing to express myself in an artistic way. I’ve been playing the piano since I was a kid, and music has been what really formed me, in the beginning. I reached photography some years after, when I felt the real need to “see” the visions I used to have while I was playing the piano. The places I created in my mind. So the photography was born as a plug-in of music. I studied it at high school anyway, and the film has been my first approach ever with photography. When I grew I decided to make it – or trying to make it – a job, and that was the reason why I moved to Rome to continue studying it. I don’t even know how long I have been practicing photography, but I think something like 12 years.


What is it about the cinematic world that you are drawn to? What do you enjoy most about working with people? After my studies in photography I had a long dark period about me and my art. About who I was, who I believed to be, what I was trying to communicate to people around me and what I wanted to communicate to myself. I stopped making pictures and actually it was illuminating because with the right time I found the answers to my questions. I wanted to be myself, and I wanted to talk about my feelings. I started taking pictures like I never did before: in a cinematic way, like representing my life, my ideas, my thoughts and feelings as a movie. And I started mixing this with portraits, which is what took me to meet new people, to find the right faces to take a picture of. This is what I love most about working with people: when you find something similar to you and you can learn something new through it, something new about yourself that you did not know, or something new of the world you are living in.

What do you feel are the most common themes in your photography? Is there anything in particular that you want to say with your images? I have always been attracted by the [idea of] pain, and I wouldn’t even be able to tell you why if you asked me. This is it. I have always tried to create stories of isolation and emptiness. Maybe is this the most common theme in my pictures, but I think it depends on the situation too. With my work I would like to talk about everything I feel, and I don’t feel only pain and isolation. Everyone of us feels millions and millions of things, so maybe I just follow that flow.

Typically, how much post-production to you do on your images? What tool do you find yourself using most often? Okay, let’s talk about post production. Post production has become the most important moment of my work, and I would have never even thought, years ago. Infact, it is that moment in which I can make that photo as I imagined it in my mind before starting. I made myself known by people thanks to my way I post produce and recreate colors in my pictures. This is what I do most often. I love working on colors, to make them in “I am winter” style. Cold colors, anyway.

How do you approach your ideas? Do you find that you execute your ideas immediately from memory, or is it something that you spend time planning? Well, this really depends on the situation. I would say both of them, but everything’s relative. To be honest I usually create my pictures getting inspired by my memories, because memories, music and feelings are my main inspirations. But I also spend time planning the whole scene and the concept, and I truly love doing it. I think both of them are important to each other and definitely both of them are important to me.

A lot of your photography feels really hazy, isolated, and lonely. What usually inspires this sort of feeling and colour pallet within your images Yes, as I said before all my pictures aim to talk about my loneliness in the world, as a constant state of emptiness. The colors that I choose to represent are my personal way to decorate them, and I create my project “I am winter” with this purpose. Everything inspires me, but most of all a thought: the idea of being lost in the world, paralyzed by the awareness to have always a missing piece. What are some accomplishments of yours that you feel most proud of? Well, honestly I think I can’t answer to this question as I wish. I think I am satisfied of who I am now. I wouldn’t talk about photography prizes or goals. I just want to be proud of the person that I have become at this point of my life. What equipment do you use? What are some of your favourite tools? For my work I use analog and digital systems, but definitely my favourite one is the analog one. I think there is not a specific reason why I prefer it, but I always loved it most than the other one. I use both anyway, and most of the time I go on digital because it is cheaper, of course.

Where would you like to see yourself and your work go in the near future? This is the most difficult question until now. This is always a difficult question because most of the time I have no idea about it. Where do I see myself? Somewhere good. In some safe place, living my life, appreciating the little details. The sun on my skin, the feeling of being not alone in the world. All I want is to be happy, and I know that happiness doesn’t exist as a constant state of mind, but people will always try to reach it because the hope is the most important thing we all have. I would love to live thanks my job, to wake up in the morning knowing to be satisfied of myself, to have no regrets, to look behind me and see how much I loved everything I had. I am trying to work hard on this. We all want something we don’t have yet, but I am trying to appreciate what I already have in my life, and definitely there is so much to be glad of.


How do you feel working towards a formal education has benefitted you and in what ways do you feel it also was less necessary? I personally loved art school. I completed a 3 years degree in Visual Arts ( Arts Plastiques) in Quebec City Canada, almost 18 years ago. To me, it was very beneficial when it comes to experimenting with mediums and learn basic techniques. Exploring oils, acrylics, #D sculpting, architecture and computer graphic gave me an opportunity to start defining myself. I also strongly believe in critique sessions when you learn to talk about art but also learn to open your mind to commentary about your own work. I do not think anything was “less necessary�, but I think some people about the wrong expectations when it comes to any type of art education, it should be about exploration and experience, I feel like some people believe they will find their voice immediately, when the actual process takes multiple additional years to refine. How do you feel your surroundings in the Eastern parts of Canada have inspired or affected the work that you create? I am originally from Quebec City, but I move to Toronto almost 14 years ago. I truly appreciate the buzziness of the city. So many opportunities to explore and connect with the world from here.

What is it about the human figure that you are particularly drawn to paint? Because I was classically trained, portraiture was always such a part of my journey. The challenge of creating a style based on a more traditional subject with a modern twist was very attractive. How to reinvent the analogue portrait and bring it to this era mostly dominated by digital influences is a journey I truly embrace. Is there a specific theme that you like to incorporate with your paintings? I like my composition to be fairly stiff and I also have the tendency to keep very bare backgrounds. To me, it is all about creating that connection between the viewer and the character. Attempting to establish eye contact, attempting to solve the image.

In addition, what feeling are you hoping to pull out of people who take a look at the imagery that you create?

Do you draw everything out within your canvas, or do you put it together digitally before printing it to life by hand?

My work is a representation of duality, the fight between one’s outer self and inner self. The person you might be when sitting in silence at home versus the person you are projecting in public. Who is the true self, the hidden one or the projected one. By creating a visual vibration, I am hoping to create a literal quest for an answer, as well as a storytelling element with the painted character.

I do a traditional sketch and then use a projector to “transfer� onto to canvas, I duplicate the image this way and once my rough sketch is done, I then start painting alla prima or wet-on-wet.

What does your routine look like when you first set yourself up on a project? Wake up, snack, gym, breakfast, emails, art for 6-10 hours, food, rest, sleep, repeat.

What birthed the replication of eyes and other facial features? In the beginning, years ago, it was more of a technical challenge, I was doing a lot of traditional portraits but still playing with mirroring images, and duplicating elements, eventually overlapping 2 similar sketches. It was years of experimenting and research that lead me to settle on this imagery. How long have you been using oils for? I took my first oil painting class in a local community cbeter when i was 7 years old.

What are some key tools and colours that you find yourself using before any others? For oils, I use Gamblin oils and Gamvar for varnishing. I use very affordable brushes from Royal and langnickel... Tell us a bit about your development with your colour pallet. In the past, I have seen your very lucid and vibrant coloursmute down into a relatively more neutral colour pallet. When do you find yourself changing this up a bit? How do you feel it changes the mood of your images? Yes, I go through different phases with colours, because my style is focused on the subject of my imagery, it leaves me a lot of freedom to experiment with colours. Last year all my work was very light and was featuring a lot of pastel colours. This year I am using a lot more darker colours for skin tones and clothing elements.

What has been or was one of the most difficult things for you to learn or integrate into your work and /or work flow? When I first transition from the corporate work to full-time artist, it was a challenge to find my routine, now that it has been a little while, I learned to do a lot of lists to keep myself on track with deadlines and projects. Where do you hope to see your other work in the future? What is a prominent artistic goal for you? I really just hope to continue building my legacy as a Canadian artist and maybe one day have a feature in a great Canadian museum.





Kill The Sun Rise

Kill The Sun is the sophomore EP from American alternative metal band Cane Hill, which sees the band exploring their softer side drawing influences from pop, r&b and acoustic rock. The project opens with a tasteless fusion of rap music and acoustic rock; the rattling hi hats and trap snares make a very ugly pairing with the nu-metal rock chorus and acoustic guitars. I like the melodic set of guitar chords and layers of harmonies on the following track “Empty”, but I am immediately pulled out of the track by its blatant rip off of “Never Too Late” by 3 Days Grace. Unfortunately the rip off ended up being the best vocal performance on the record, as the vocals on the following track are about as boring and uninspired as the guitar solo on the back half of the song. The EP’s title track also does little to win me over vocally with its annoying trade offs and terribly cliché woah-oh’s throughout the chorus. It seems as though the band has at least somewhat of a pulse on the single “Acid Rain” but I still find this pairing of grunge vocals with acoustic guitars and electronic drums to be hideous. To my dismay there is another guitar solo on this track; I was sick of the acoustic guitars after the first song but at least they didn’t hurt my ears the way this soloing does. “Smoking Man” keeps the pace set by the penultimate track, and I do enjoy the wall of noise that EP leaves off on, but it is incredibly conflicting with the softer tone of every moment of the project leading up to this point. I’m sure it could be argued that Kill The Sun would have been very forward thinking about 25 years ago, but all they are doing on this project is attempting to pair genres that need to die with genres that need to stay dead. BEST TRACK: “Empty” WORST TRACK: “86d – No Escort”






Chase Atlantic is an Australian pop band heavily influenced by the sounds and styles of hip-hop, R&B and trap music. Their latest EP, the aptly titled “DON’T TRY THIS” is a lyrical wasteland rife with clichés from the trap and hip-hop world, and feels more like it is imitating something rather than presenting any unique ideas. The opener “WHAT U CALL THAT” puts Chase Atlantic’s lavish production on full display, with the track punching in and out to accentuate the vocal melodies on the chorus. The lyrics on this track as well as the lead single “LIKE A ROCKSTAR” are terribly vacuous; the uncompromising focus on drug use, sex, fighting and all sorts of other hedonistic antics results in a well-named project but very little substance. I enjoy some of the production on “DEVILISH”, particularly the fluttering synthesizers in the verse, but the obnoxiously loud sub bass in the chorus lands more on the irritating than invigorating side. The vocalist of the band remains pretty unimpressionable throughout the project; safely hopping back and forth between his best impressions of Post Malone and The 1975, but it isn’t until “GREENGREENGREEN” where he actually begins to annoy me with the whining inflection and repetitive lyrics. I do enjoy his performance on the chorus of the final song though, as it actually sounds as though he has a pulse. The saxophone on this song is a nice touch as well, which is also the main reason why I enjoy the gentle and dreamy “YOU TOO”. The end of this project didn’t leave as terrible a taste in my mouth as I had anticipated, but it doesn’t make up for the slew of generic, trendy and shallow songs that came before it. This project is overall a forgettable batch of songs from a band that is hopelessly trying to ride the coattails of a wave that will soon pass.





Helix Sharptone

Helix is the latest studio album from long running Japanese metalcore outfit Crystal Lake. I have been following the band for a number of years now due to my belief that their well crafted blending of genres is bringing a fresh new take that the metalcore world desperately needs. This blend is presented no better than with the opener “Aeon”; an absolutely pummeling and overwhelming track that infuses elements of black metal, metallic hardcore, metalcore and others into a literal onslaught of sound. The song goes through multiple phases, finally concluding with a crushingly slow, down-tuned breakdown. It seems that when Crystal Lake wants to overwhelm the listener with a part, they will either play blisteringly fast or grindingly slow, I find the former of these to be far more effective, particularly on the momentous “Lost In Forever”. The songs on Helix are typically presented in one of two ways; the first I like to call the “traditional” Crystal Lake sound in which the band takes the listener on a journey through impressive riffs and melody driven choruses, typically with a grand finish. The second sees the Crystal Lake attempting to branch out from their usual formula and experiment, and here is where most of the album’s missteps come about. I am all for trying out new and different ideas, especially when it comes to a band playing with this much talent, but it’s a shame to see it squandered on nu-metal riffing. Even though “+81” isn’t terrible, I cannot get through “Hail To The Fire” without laughing out loud at the bizarre vocalizations akin to Disturbed’s “Down With The Sickness” “Just Confusing” sees Crystal Lake dabbling heavily in their hip-hop influences, and this unfortunately doesn’t pan out in the best way. The vocal performance isn’t even that bad on this track; the instrumental is the true Achilles heel of this record as it is simply bland and generic. The band’s infusion of hip-hop is much more tasteful on tracks such as “Outgrow” and “Devilcry”, where they blend this influence tastefully

with their traditional sound. Beyond this strange detour, the album closes out strong with the solid single “Apollo” as well as the suitably epic “Sanctuary”, which has a section of whoa-oh’s that I can surprisingly tolerate. Overall this is a solid release for Crystal Lake and the metalcore genre itself. I hope to see more experimentation within the genre, as well as some more tasteful experimentation from Crystal Lake themselves. BEST TRACK: “Aeon” WORST TRACK: “Just Confusing”




High Street Creeps Mau5strap

High Street Creeps is the second studio album from UK electronic producer, Feed Me. I have been following Feed Me’s career for about a decade now with fluctuating interest, but his announcement of a follow up to 2012’s Calamari Tuesday had me more than curious to see what he would bring to the table on a new fulllength album. High Street Creeps opens with a nimble keyboard line that slowly builds with icy synthesizers and resonant sub dropping into a heavy, up-tempo groove laced with warped vocal samples. As is customary with this genre of music, a lot of emphasis is placed on the “drop” of the song, and Feed Me is no stranger to this. The drop on the following track “Shimmer” does little to progress the panned, bouncy electronics and reverbed percussion but I found the increasing pitch of the samples before the drop to be very effective at building tension. As the track continues, Feed Me includes a choir and distorted organ to finish off the song with a much more sinister tone and actually satisfying drop.

Unfortunately once the halfway point is reached on this album, almost all of Feed Me’s hand has been revealed. With the exclusion of a few instrumental detours, most of the producer’s tracks hit a defined halfway point where everything onwards is just a repetition of the first half of the song. I find this songwriting to be lazy to a serious fault and it severely impacts the album’s and individual song’s re-listen value. The end of this project does little to bring new ideas to the table, and I find most of the ending forgettable with the exception of “Pumpkin Eyes”; a track layered with acoustic guitars and a sharp 1-2 groove. The melodies and harmonies are quite lovely on this song and remind me of something Coldplay would write with a pinch more energy. Overall I think High Street Creeps would have been much better had some of the more generic tracks towards the end been left on the cutting room floor and Feed Me simply just came out with another EP.

BEST TRACK: “Barrel Roll” The crescendo of “Sleepless” effortlessly steals WORST TRACK: “Defiant” the show from Feed Me’s unimpressionable vocal performance, as do the demented synth loops that drive the track. I’ve always found Feed Me’s vocal contributions to his songs to be consistently underwhelming, but something I must commend this album on is the effectiveness of the featured singers on these tracks. The lead single “Feel Love” features great vocals from Rosie Doonan and Feed Me’s instrumental builds quite elegantly around her, especially once the her vocals are sampled within the chorus and Rosie is able to layer herself overtop. Graham Fink’s chorus on “Till The Wheels Come Off” is very effective once he reaches into his upper range, and the progression leading up to his refrain is deftly arranged as well. The sound design on “Barrel Roll” is great as well; there are a lot of fantastic, colorful and textured sounds to make up a song that is the most similar to Feed Me’s bombastic older material.





Fever 333 is an American rock trio that blends elements of hardcore, hip-hop and other genres in a bombastic and politically charged assault on the ears. The band’s debut album STRENGTH IN NUMB333RS opens with the blood-pumping “Burn It”. I am a big fan Jason Butler’s past discography and it is exciting to see him fronting another high energy, genre-blending project. The sing-along chorus of this opening song sets the tone well for the rest of the record - as a majority of STRENGTH IN NUMB333RS is packed with anthemic, stadium ready refrains… not all of which are as impactful as intended. The following track “ANIMAL” is a good example of this with its unnecessary and cheesy whoa-oh’s throughout. “PREY FOR ME/3” is the first in a trilogy of twopart songs; the first half consisting of Fever 333’s now standard blend of hip-hop centric verses and soaring choruses, while the second half acts as a sort of mantra to the listener, focusing on Jason’s repetition “You’re not the only one who feels like the only one” delivered in a inflection very reminiscent of Zack de la Rocha from Rage Against The Machine. The grim lyrics on the first half of “INGLEWOOD/3” paint a vivid picture for the listener, and the second section serves to overwhelm the ears with an assaulting breakdown and screamed section delivered between tension filled drum rolls. The conclusion of this trilogy really proves that Fever 333 are at their best when they venture through more winding, unconventional song structures rather than their three-minute, pop structured hits. This trilogy adds a layer of depth and experimentalism STRENGTH IN NUMB333RS desperately needed to remain diverse and engaging. “AM I HERE?” brings some much-needed calm to the record with its gentle acoustic guitars and lush, beautiful string section just before a solid and energetic closer. I feel like if I wasn’t as familiar with Jason Butler and company’s previous work, this album would sound a bit more fresh and new to me, but since I have followed his

progression up until now I honestly don’t see much difference between what is happening on this album and what was presented on letlive.’s earlier records. Even though the Rage Against The Machine influence is worn very clearly on this record’s sleeve, there is no denying that Fever 333 is blending the influences of hard rock and hip-hop with boatloads more finesse than their contemporaries. BEST TRACK: “Prey For Me/3” WORST TRACK: “Animal”




Thank You, Next Republic

thank u, next is the highly anticipated fifth studio album from American pop singer Ariana Grande. In promotion for the album, Ariana released the blissful and playful title track as well as the more aggressive and straightforward “7 rings”, both of which became smash hit singles. I must admit that I am far more infatuated with the former of the two singles, with my main gripe being that Ariana is too talented a singer to be worried about pandering to the hip-hop market. I admire her versatility and the tracks effectiveness as a skeletal banger, but the song is incomparable to the more melodic cuts such as the lavishly produced and vocally stunning introduction to the album, “imagine”. Ariana’s head is all over the place on thank u, next; during the tension filled “Needy” she goes into detail about her issues with attachment, but immediately after belts out her desire for space on the addictively bouncy “NASA”. Almost all of the lyrics revolve around the singer’s personal relationships and real-life struggles, and the intentional pairing of the above tracks is an excellent representation of where Ariana stands as an artist and as a person. This is further demonstrated in the album’s conclusion where Ariana looks back with an almost nostalgic and learned tone on her past relationships with “thank u, next”, and then switches gears one last time to impact a different relationship on the closer “Breakup With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored” As much as I love the hard-hitting “bad idea” as well as the warped, instrumental detour the song takes to close out, I find myself far more infatuated with the softer, more melodically focused songs. The beautifully spacey “ghostin” truly showcases what a talented singer Ariana Grande is, as she carries the song flawlessly almost entirely without a beat. I also enjoy the way the sample of the classic “After Laughter Comes Tears” is cut up in the chorus of “fake smile”, where the melodic crooning in the sample pairs flawlessly with the subtle bouncing beat on this track. I would argue there are no duds on “thank u, next”, just a few


songs that pale in comparison to others. I would choose a ballad over a banger from Ariana any day, and following the strength of this release I look forward to the direction she takes with her next studio effort. BEST TRACK: “ghosten” WORST TRACK: reak up with your girlfriend, i’m bored”




A Modern Tragedy, Vol. 2 Fueled By Ramen

a modern tragedy, vol. 2 is the second EP from Canadian singer-songwriter Jordan Edward Benjamin a.k.a. Grandson. Volume 2 of this collection of songs sees Grandson continuing his bombastic blend of rock music, pop and hip-hop starting with the bendy, sunburnt guitar line on the opening track “Apologize”. The guitars stay prominent throughout the chorus on this song and many others on this EP, giving the refrains a consistently explosive and energetic feel. There is a lot to like about this opening track, but the whistling that is introduced two minutes in really sours the song for me. “Stigmata” kicks off with an awesome bassline that transition into a sharp 1-2 groove I enjoy quite a bit. There’s a strong White Stripes influence on this track but also subtle, twittering hi hats leading up to the song’s intense drops, as well as an uncompromisingly nu-metal breakdown that hits with surprisingly well at the very end.The verse of “Is This What You Wanted” is a definite change of pace from the opening two songs, but the track soon ramps up in intensity with the hard-hitting chorus. I actually love the juxtaposition between the insane instrumental flowing around the steady, yet reserved vocal delivery – it’s a whacky pairing but Grandson pulls it off well. “Fallin” Starts off lowkey as well, but I don’t find this track is elevated at all by the rock instrumentation here; Grandson’s flow on this track is solid, but I think it is the beat underneath him that is lacking. I do not like the ending of a modern tragedy, vol. 2. I think the lyrical concept behind “Darkside” is a pretty tasteless take on the topic of school shootings, and the electronic drop and guitar solo the track builds up to is nothing enjoyable either. I could tolerate with most of the material on this project, but this song in particular pushes much too far into tackily dark and edgy for me. Overall this EP presents a consistently bombastic and energetic vibe, and although not think all of the

songs here landed I look forward to seeing what Grandson will do with a full length album. BEST TRACK: “Is This What You Wanted ” WORST TRACK: “Darkside”




Father Of Four Quality Control

Offset is an American rapper and member of the Atlanta rap trio Migos. The MC is arguably making the most waves in the group currently and is the last and definitely most anticipated of the trio to release a solo studio album. Offset’s great flow and appreciation of melody paired with the production team helmed by Metro Boomin and Southside, the project is unsurprisingly the strongest of the Migos’ solo efforts - but it is not without its flaws. Father of 4 opens with the title track, a melancholic and personal introduction to the album that sees Offset reflecting on the relationships he has with his four children. It’s an unconventional way to start a trap album, but also proves that the MC is looking to bring a bit more substance to this project. For the most part, the production on Father of 4 is impeccable. Metro, Southside and company bring their A-game, setting the stage for Offset with hypnotizing bangers such as “Tats On My Face” and nocturnal ballads like “After Dark”. I consistently return to “Lick” for its bouncy sub bass and nimble flute lines, but Offset is also able to steal the show with engaging performances on “Made Men” and the meditative “Red Room”. Offset also steals the show over the incredible looping synths on “Wild Wild West”, but Gunna’s appearance kills the momentum of the track altogether. Father of 4 slows down the pace nicely throughout its midsection, but I find myself returning to the album’s more energetic cuts such as the star studded “Legacy”; I love the atmosphere of this song and the strong features from Travis Scott and 21 Savage. Despite solid features from Cardi B and Gucci Mane, I found the last third of this album to be relatively underwhelming on the production side and Offset does little to bring anything new to the table. I’m not crazy about the last track either, as I found Offset’s performance on the penultimate “Red Room” to be so captivating I believe it would have

made a better finale. Although I wish Father of 4 were a bit leaner, it is far and away the best solo Migos album and proves Offset to be the most dynamic and personable of the trio. BEST TRACK: “Red Room” WORST TRACK: “On Fleek”





OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE Magazine, previously known as Flesh & Bone Magazine is an online as well as print-on-demand publication dedicated to sh...


OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE Magazine, previously known as Flesh & Bone Magazine is an online as well as print-on-demand publication dedicated to sh...