Apr/May 2013 Stylus Magazine
02 Stylus Magazine Apr/May 2013
Apr/May Issue2 2013 Volume24
On the Cover MATEA RADIC is an artist and illustrator living in Winnipeg, MB. She draws with paint and paints with paper. She likes making jokes and sandwiches.
You can view more of her work at www.matearadic.tumblr.com
Editor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sheldon Birnie Art Director . . . . . . . . . . . . Andrew Mazurak Assistant Editor . . . . . . . . . . . . . Darcy Penner Advertising Manager . . . . . . . . . . Ted Turner
Distributor . . . . . . . . . . . Patrick Michalishyn Cover Art . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Matea Radic Printed by Copy Plus Inc. . . . . . 204-232-3558
Contributors Scott Wolfe Janel Chau Adrienne Yeung Nicki Buckle Matthew Dyck Broose Tulloch Harrison Samphir Andrew Friesen Jan Castillo John Ivison Michael Elves Alexandre Ilkkala-Boyer Gilad Carrol Devin King
Stylus is published bi-monthly by the University of Winnipeg Studentsâ€™ Association, with a circulation of 2,500. Stylus serves as the program guide to 95.9FM CKUW and will reflect the many musical communities it supports within Winnipeg and beyond. Stylus strives to provide coverage of music that is not normally written about in the mainstream media. Stylus acts as a vehicle for the work of new writers, photographers and artists, including members of the University of Winnipeg, of CKUW and of the Winnipeg community at large. Stylus reserves the right to refuse to print material, specifically, that of a racist, homophobic or sexist nature. All submissions may be edited and become the property of Stylus. All opinions expressed in Stylus are those of the contributors and do not necessarily reflect those of the editors. Contributions in the form of articles, reviews, letters, photos and graphics are welcome and should be sent with contact information to:
Stylus Magazine Bulman Student Centre, University of Winnipeg 515 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, MB, R3B 2E9 Phone: 204-786-9785, Fax: 204-783-7080 email@example.com www.stylusmagazine.ca Contributions will be accepted in the body of an email. No attachments please. All submissions may be edited and become the property of Stylus. Unauthorized reproduction of any portion of Stylus is strongly discouraged without the express written consent of the editors.
TableofContents Blah, Blah, Blah Events Around Town . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Live Bait Stylus Does SXSW . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 CKUWho Red Box Radio . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 CKUW Program Guide . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 NonStopHipHop with Swollen Members . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Local Spotlight Curtis Nowosad // Boats // Ingrid Gatin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Root Cellar Josh Ritter // Sora // Jill Barber . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Ulteriors Burial // Cloudland Canyon // Philip Glass . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Iconoclast Pissed Jeans . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Mental Notes Charles Bradley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Under the Needle Atoms For Peace // Chris Owens // David Bowie . . . . 22 Fear of Music How an Out-of-Time Harlem Shake Dominated Music . . . . 24
Features KEN mode . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Blue Hawaii . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 VIKINGS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Romi Mayes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Corin Raymond . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Apr/May 2013 Stylus Magazine
THE MEN APR 14 WECC
Blah, Blah, Blah The snow is finally receding, the sun is rising with each day, and summer festival season is just around the gall-dang corner! Get out & celebrate, ye denizens of this Great City! There is live music to be seen... Monday nights has the Sawat Team playing at 555 Osborne *** Tuesdays are Soul Night down at the Cavern, with either Dr. Hotbottom & The Soul Rx or the Solutions *** Each Wednesday catch the Songerwriter Explosion series at 555 Osborne, and Andrew Neville & The Poor Choices over at the Rose N Bee *** Every Thursday is Rock n’ Roll Draft Night at the Windsor *** Every Sunday, don’t forget to catch Big Dave McLean at the Times Change(d) *** If you haven’t got tickets yet, you may be too late, but KEN mode are launching their new album at the Pyramid April 4th, with Today is the Day, Black Tusk, and Fight Amp. Shit might get heavy. And the Albert hosts Woflsblood, Flresh Lite, and LSDS *** Who’s going to Bon Jovi at the MTS Centre on April 5th? This guy! Sleep When I’m Dead, y’all! *** April 5th & 6th, Corin Raymond & the Sundowners launch Paper Nickels at the Times Change(d) *** April 6th also sees the Eagle Lake Owls at Exchange Community Church and Kato Destroy, Johnny Sizzle and the Animalistics at the Rose n Bee while the Pyramid has Swollen Members *** April 8th at Negative Space is Doom, Loutish, CETASCEAN, Flash out, and Nightmarefucker *** April 9th check out Clutch, Orange Goblin, Lionize, and Scorpion Child at The Garrick *** April 10th sees the return of K-Os to the Pyramid Cabaret; and Ingrid Gatin brings her 1,000 Lives to the West End Cultural Centre; while Folk Fest alumni Billy Bragg and Kim Churchill rock the Garrick *** Mise En Scene launch their way to Europe with a show at the Park, featuring the Bokononists and Pumas *** Friday April 12 Young
Pixels, Dust Adam Dust, & Hey Pilgrim are at the Cavern; the Angry Dragons, the Trashers, the Bad Nerves, and 1971 are ripping it up at Ozzy’s, and the Bonaduces (!!!), Danger Cat, the Undecided and Clipwing rock the Royal Albert Arms. Or hit up the Times for a little bit of Righteous Ike *** April 13 JD Edwards Band’s at the Times, the Cavern hosts Pernell Reichert Band and Kieran West & The Buffalo Band, while the Royal Albert hosts Big Trouble in Little China, Republic of Champions, and Just Piss. Over at the Windsor, Quagmire are celebrating their CD release in style, with the Vibrating Beds and Satanic Rights. And Kazzoshay have a CD release party at The Pyramid if things weren’t busy enough this evening! *** You won’t want to miss The Men who will be at the West End Cultural Centre on April 14th. What else do you have to do on a Sunday! *** Monday gets LOUD with Goatwhore, 3 Inches of Blood, Tyrants Demise and Inverted Serenity at the Zoo *** You’ll really want to dip into your electric stash on April 17 and head to the WECC to catch Todd Snider and Romi Mayes. I am kicking myself in the junk with my cowboy boots for not being in town for this one, folks! Don’t miss out! If you happened to miss Systematik when they played with White Lung earlier this month, don’t miss them at the Windsor tonight! *** Rococode get into it for real at the Park Theatre April 18th, with Salinas and Animal Teeth *** Baby Dee perform Friday April 19th at the WECC, while Electric Soul, The Revival, and Influence invade the Cavern. Prepare to get heavy as fuck at the Windsor, when Bison BC roll into town, along with Warsaw and Dead Ranch *** F-Holes get Red Hot Saturday April 20th at the West End, and (appropriately) Rastamils are at getting weird at the Times Change(d) *** Friday April 26 500 Pound Furnace burn up
the Cavern, or check out Andrew Neville & The Poor Choices at the Times, that is if you’re not already booked for the rescheduled Leonard Cohen at MTS Centre *** April 27 everyone’s favourite country gentleman Ridley Bent does his thang at the Times *** Bad Country get bad at the Cavern on the 28th *** April 29th, Family of the Year make an appearance at the Park *** April 30th will see Ivan & Alyosha at The Pyramid with Jay Nash *** Starting May 2nd, the Sweet Alibi start a three week stand of Thursdays at Times Change(d) *** But before that on May 1st catch the return of the incredible Purity Ring who bring along Blue Hawaii (pg. 7) to WECC *** Raleigh get it on May 3rd at the WECC; while the Crooked Brothers get into it at Times; and Ghost and Ides of Gemini melt faces at the Garrick Centre *** May 4 sees Fist, Thunder in Rock at the Albert, the Stiff Bishops, the 10:15s and Hey Pilgrim get grimy down at the Cavern, and Ultra Mega at Times *** Bust out your hairspray and coke spoons, Motley Crue are dragging their decrepid zombie-bodies to the MTS on May 7. See ya there, brah? Fuck yeah! *** On May 8, MGMT bring their beloved sound and Kuroma to the Burt *** May 10 Ginger St James and the Reverend Rambler do it up good at the Times *** The Skydiggers make their triumphant return to the WECC on May 11 *** Abramson Singers Monday May 20th at the WECC *** May 31 why not head on out to Transcona if you dare for the Hi Neighbour Festival! Fun! Or hit the Times for Mariachi Ghost *** Sweat out some of the toxins you’ve built up in seedy bars this winter with the annual Run for Rights Sat June 1st *** Don’t forget to keep your eyes pealed for the next issue of Stylus, which will hit streets on Thursday June 6, with a party to be held at the Rose N Bee to celebrate. See you when the sun shines, friends! Party on!
EAGLE LAKE OWLS Saturday Apr 6th @ Exchange Community Church INGRID GATIN Wednesday Apr 10th @ WECC
BABY DEE Friday April 19th @ WECC F-HOLES Saturday Apr 20th @ WECC THE 11TH ANNUAL UW FILM FEST May 1-3rd @ The University of Winnipeg RALEIGH Friday May 3rd @ WECC JAI BABY May 16-26th @ University of Winnipeg’s Asper Centre for Theatre and Film ABRAMSON SINGERS Monday May 20th @ WECC GARDEN PARTY FOR MARY JANE’S COOKING SCHOOL Saturday May 25th @ 252 Arlington St.
Apr/May 2013 Stylus Magazine
Bring the Noise and set your dials to...
By Scott Wolfe
ans of heavy music here in Winnipeg are undoubtedly all over the KEN mode train. But the rest of the world is catching up. In case you weren’t at the station when last it pulled out, Stylus caught up with Jesse Matthewson to see how the band is doing on the road and talk their new record Entrench, which is out now on Season of Mist. Stylus: Your Juno win last year was huge because it recognized the new and progressive heavier music talent in Canada, while shifting away from old safe picks. Has the win affected you guys at all? Have you noticed new fans and better turnouts at shows because of your win, in either Canada or U.S.? Jesse Matthewson: The fun part of all of the Juno stuff, was the mainstream media was treating bands like us and Fuck the Facts as “new” bands...
Both of us have been around for well over a decade [KEN mode will turn 14 in September], it just so happens both of our bands keep getting better with age, while many get worse. We’ve noticed a bump in recognition all over since the win, and it has tied in very well with the release of our new record under a year later. Obviously Canada cares a little more, but it’s been cool regardless. Stylus: Was Entrench recorded or written differently in anyway compared to Venerable, and was their excess pressure in following up an album that received so much critical acclaim? JM: Entrench was definitely written and recorded differently, but every album really has its own unique circumstances surrounding it. Entrench was written in much more concise bursts, largely over the course of two, week and a half sessions with our new bassist, Andrew LaCour (who lives in the US). Meanwhile, Venerable was written over the course of two and a half years while working full time jobs when Chad Tremblay was still with us. With Venerable we traveled down to Godcity studios in Salem, MA to track and mix over nine days with Kurt Ballou [Converge, High on Fire, Torche], while for Entrench we flew Matt Bayles [Mastodon, Isis, Pearl Jam] up to Winnipeg and spent almost a month in Private Ear. We were very much entrenched in the making of this album, as it had to be important. If we were going to
AU ILL CH US NEL TRAT A J Y ION B
continue to spill all of our resources into this band, this album had to be the biggest and best thing we’d ever done. Stylus: Matt Bayles has produced some awesome music (Mastadon, ISIS, etc.). How was it working with him? JM: Matt’s an intense personality who wants to make the best record possible. We’d heard he had a reputation for being really hard on bands to get the best performance out of them, and that was a major selling point toward us wanting to work with him. In the end, I didn’t think he was particularly tough, but that’s likely because we all had similar expectations. I think we all had fun, despite the grueling process. Stylus: This is the first album recorded with your current bass player. How did things go in the studio and with writing? Did he bring anything unique or unexpected to the KEN mode equation? JM: Andrew was the main songwriter in his band Khann, so obviously he brought his own flavour to the KEN mode buffet. It was exciting to see what kind of parts he’d come up with to complement mine, and vice versa. This was the most collaborative album we’ve done since our Reprisal album with our original bassist Darryl Laxdal, and the outcome is very exciting and intense. Stylus: With the steady bass player for recording and touring, is the vibe on the soon to be released Entrench different than that of Venerable? JM: Definitely. Leading to the release of Venerable I was terrified as I was frantically training new bassists to tour with us, and make sure everything I’d been working toward didn’t fall flat on its face. With Entrench, we have a stable lineup and can properly tackle every aspect of touring and promotion that we need to give this album our all! Stylus: How is the crowd responding to the new material? JM: The crowd seems to be into the new material, but I think the record needs to be out so people can really absorb it. Our shows are pretty intense, and I think for a lot of people, they kind of just lean back and let it permeate. Stylus: Has touring with the likes of some pretty well respected and big bands influenced KEN mode in anyway? Whether in the writing or live performance department? JM: I think us touring with them makes THEM step their game up. KEN mode is a machine that refuses to stop. I’m on a mission to eat all bands up and spit them back out. Stylus: The new record sounds amazing from what I have heard. Would you say it is your best to date? JM: Of course! If it wasn’t, I’d be wasting my time! Catch these Winnipeg boys rocking the Pyramid with Black Tusk, Fight Amp and Today is the Day at the Pyramid Cabaret April 4th!
Apr/May 2013 Stylus Magazine
B lue Hawaii are Alex “Agor”
Cowan and Raphelle StandellPreston, who live in Montréal and play electronic music. If their sound can be described as dream pop, then their first full length album Untogether is a dream neither nightmare nor sweet, but introspective and amorphous. It’s a dream lit by a strobe light, where people from your past flicker in and out of the narrative of your subconscious. Untogether sounds like the kind of dream which you wake up from, lie still, and think about.
By Adrienne Yeung
Instrumentalist Agor and vocalist Raph wrote Untogether in physically separate spaces – and the sound of many songs are likewise disjointed, drifting, pensive, and fragile. Stylus was curious about Blue Hawaii’s songwriting process, so on a spring day in Winnipeg, drinking coffee and wearing three sweaters, we called Agor (who at the time was in the San Francisco record store “Amoeba” watching labelmate Doldrums play an in-store show) to chat. Stylus: Can you tell me about the aesthetic of the album art? How do you think it fits with the sound of the album? Agor Cowan: We were originally going to have this image of people in an Australian swimming race. But then we realized we wanted to do something we had thought about a bit more. And we decided on this image of both of us hugging, reaching out, but then kind of falling through each other, rather than actually landing on each other. We had been composing this thing separately, taking turns night by night and [we] would cut it up and move it around. In any moment it could have just not worked out. At the same time, in Montréal, people we knew were moving in and out a lot. And between us, we were kind of drifting apart. So it felt really appropriate that once we did finish this album, it would have this constant feeling that it’s so delicate, it might not even exist. A lot of the songs are really light, and there’s this image of “we’re there, and we do see each other, but there’s this disconnect” that you can hear through the music. It is complete, but [the album] accepts and addresses a certain kind of failure. Stylus: In what ways did the cutting and pasting affect the sound you wanted? AC: [We’d] rearrange things to a point where they barely resembled the original: maybe put a different feeling underneath [a track], change it from minor to major. We reworked the thing so much that by the end, the songs were so far away from
what we had originally planned, but I guess in an ultimate sense they were a lot closer to what we really wanted. [The vocals are] like evidence from our creative process. We had this one vocal take done on a crappy microphone, and we can barely hear what Raphaelle’s saying. We’d kind of just make the lyrics up after. And it’s interesting, because for me, a lot of the songs never really were fully realized until we started to play them live. We realized that there really is songwriting underneath it. It doesn’t quite sound like a song, it’s so cut up; but that’s just how the songs were composed. Not on a piano, or guitar - it was synths and melody and then we’d jot down some lyrics or something. Stylus: So you and Raph spent a while apart after [your EP] Blooming Summer. While Raph went on tour with Braids, you went to Germany. How did your time in Europe change the way you make music? AC: Definitely the main thing that Europe did for me was show me that there was a proper form for
electronic music. But I wasn’t really playing very much. It was almost like research or something. Often I’d go to clubs by myself or with my German friends, and wouldn’t even party [in the sense of getting drunk and partying]. Sometimes I’d show up at like eight in the morning; people had been partying all night and I’d watch for hours as the night reached its new fate. When you first know somebody, it’s so exciting and easy. And your life builds up. But [Raph and I] took a break for such a long time from making music, and a lot of stuff happened. We lived alone in a lot of different places, and [the album] really shows how quickly things get really complex and how that complexity can have a weight and sadness to it. [But] making the album was like shutting all that baggage away and understanding what we meant to each other, not necessarily romantically, but as people. Stylus: So are there underlying lyrical themes here? AC: A lot of them have to do with Raphaelle’s past, but “Try to Be” in particular is a really simple song which I think speaks strongly about not realising your potential, wondering why you’re not the person that you’d want to be - then realising that you can just be the person that you are, and then things will fall into place. A lot of lyrics are about lacking something or needing something else. ILLUSTRATION BY NICKI BUCKLE Stylus: I thought of an exercise that might be fun. How would you describe Untogether in terms of all the other senses besides hearing? Can you give me a word for vision, smell, touch, taste? AC: Hm. For vision, I would think about it as being like that kind of obscure transparency that you get when you look through a windowpane, and you’re reflected back at yourself, but you’re also looking through it. It’s distorted and unclear, but you see, ultimately, what is on the other side of the glass. Smell ... smell’s a sense that you could lose and still sort of be okay. But maybe it’d smell... sour. For touch, it would definitely be soft, like velvet, or like a bed that’s really like so deep that you don’t really want to get up from your sleep. And taste would have to be ... bittersweet. Catch Blue Hawaii with Purity Ring at the West End Cultural Centre May 1st.
Apr/May 2013 Stylus Magazine
BY MATTHEW DYCK
tumbling on VIKINGS’ yet to be released recordings was kind of like spotting an offshore ship I wasn’t meant to see. Despite playing to large crowds at The Lytics’ CD release show, and opening for touring acts Twin Shadow and Poolside, VIKINGS have remained almost entirely off the Internet’s radar as the electro-pop trio gathers a following through word of mouth alone. So, naturally, I was curious why an act so catchy would purposefully keep such a low profile. After a daylong blizzard, vocalist Josh Youngson and brothers Dave and James McNabb braved the snow to have coffee with Stylus and reveal their secret strategy to take over your eardrums in 2013 – well, maybe not so secret anymore. Both the air of mystery surrounding VIKINGS, and their lack of MySpace, Facebook, or independent website, is all a calculated move on their part. “But they’re all coming,” Youngson assures me. “You’ll be able to find us everywhere.” They are releasing their debut through Woven Records in three parts, with every section coinciding with the release of a new music video and containing remixes by other artists, as well. “Some of my favourite songs have come from remixes by other artists,” says Dave. “There are festivals happening all the time and DJs playing around the world, and most of them won’t play original versions of songs. So it’s a different way for us to get it out there.” It’s the kind of collaborative process that has been shaping the band’s sound since late 2011, when the trio first hit the record button in their basement studio. And bonding over coffee and cigarettes during marathon writing/recording sessions has produced the kind of eclectic electronic pop songs that are as catchy as they are hard to define. “What I wanted was something of a dreamscape, really fantasy-based, and have the song translate towards that – something that acknowledges the 80s but is really more focused on the future,” explains Youngson. To make connections between VIKINGS and their influences is no easy feat. “There are hundreds of www.stylusmagazine.ca
READY TO MAKE LANDFALL bands that we bond over,” says Dave. But at the core of every VIKINGS track lies a great pop song – utilizing a host of electronic instruments, including analogue synths and Native Instrument machines, opened the tracks up to endless possibilities. According to Youngson, “They’re songs that will hopefully make you experience worlds that are outside the one you’re in and take you on a journey.” “We’ll take things that are sonically beautiful and then mix them with things that are going to make people go really crazy at a live show,” continues Youngson. “Music like that is naturally infectious when you see it.” While VIKINGS’ music looks forward, each member’s background fills out their hook-heavy
PHOTO BY VALENTIN MITTELSTET
and expansive sound, both on the stage and in their recordings: Youngson has plenty of front-man experience as the former vocalist of punk/metal band Sick City, James McNabb has been cutting his teeth as a local DJ, and brother Dave’s education in Audio Engineering at Precursor Productions has been bringing out VIKINGS’ deadly style in the recordings, which greatly improved their initial efforts. “We wrote and recorded the majority of everything in our studio,” says Dave. “But when we sent it away to get mastered, it wasn’t where it needed to be in our eyes and in our ears.” What happened next was four months of the band working overtime, stripping the songs down to their core and starting from scratch to achieve the sound they needed. “We spent a lot of time with Andrew [Yankiwski] at Precursor mixing and mastering our tracks,” Dave explains. “It was cool because I was in class for four hours and then the guys would show up to work on stuff for five or six hours, so I would be there all day.” It’s the kind of investment and attention to detail that’s making VIKINGS the band to look out for in the coming months. “We’ve finetuned our live show,” says Dave. “We walk away from every show feeling like we’ve ran two miles. We definitely feed off of the adrenaline that comes with playing live.” And the response from fans has been overwhelmingly positive. “It’s exciting because people are asking, people are bugging us, writing on The Pyramid’s Facebook wall, ‘Where can I find these guys?’” Artists from across the globe are taking notice, too, as electronic acts apply finishing touches to their versions of VIKINGS’ sound. “Daytona from Paris is contributing, French Fox from Montréal, and Box of Wolves from Winnipeg. Everyone we send our stuff to wants more,” Youngson tells me. “So we’re finally ready to give people what they want.” VIKINGS will be headlining a show at the newly reopened Albert on Saturday, April 29th with Mike B. Apr/May 2013 Stylus Magazine
Romi Mayes Rides Away By Broose Tulloch fter more than a decade in the roots scene, Romi AMayes is retiring, “sort of.” Through a series of so-
cial media posts, Mayes announced that she was tired of the grind and wanted a change, a big one. Some soul searching later, a plan was hatched; to move from music performance into management and from cold Winnipeg to warm Vancouver Island. Stylus spoke with the roots rocker about the big shakeup. Stylus: Why are you leaving Winnipeg for Vancouver Island? Romi Mayes: The weather is a big portion of the need to move. I don’t think I have it in me to do another winter. Some people are made for this. I just can’t imagine another winter like this. It just ain’t for me! At one point for me, the love of touring was surpassed by the love of staying home. My daughter is almost 13 now and she has been a champ through all of my years of traveling and having to be away, and she knew it was my job. It has definitely come to the point for me, where it is me who doesn’t want to be away from her anymore. In a handful of years she will be 18 and I don’t want to miss another second. I got lucky with my daughter. We are closer than any mother and daughter can be. I know she would be cool with me still hitting the road when I have to, but it’s me that wants to stay. My daughter’s father and his family live on Vancouver Island as well. I think since we were moving, it made the most sense to move closer to my daughter’s family for her. Stylus: You dropped another bombshell on social media; that you would be going on a musical hiatus. RM: I watched my career excel over a decade with promise and excitement. I took on the bulk of all the work that makes you get anywhere as a writer and performer. I have always been self-managed and did all of my own bookings and much of my own promotions throughout the heart of my career. We toured four or five times a year to Europe, US and
12 Stylus Magazine Apr/May 2013
PHOTO BY MIKE LATSCHISLAW
Canada, and each time I had to buckle up and work incessantly to get things organized. As time passed, less people were coming out, and less merchandise was getting sold. This is all in tow with rising gas prices, digital technology, and the economic situation of all music lovers everywhere. It is possible to still make a few bucks and a few fans, but after all the successful tours we had and our present ages and energy levels, it just seemed to be more work than it was worth. Stylus: “Semi-retirement” is an interesting description of your career change. RM: Semi-retirement is funny to hear in your late 30s, I guess. I am a songwriter and a performer. These things I couldn’t change if I tried. I don’t know what I thought would happen in music when
I was younger and was shooting for the stars, but I did find a contentment in just getting by and touring. That satisfaction is gone and though I enjoy getting on stage and performing, I don’t want to force myself to do it all the time and every night for weeks at a time. I have lost the desire to do that. I will likely play here and there and do some festivals here and there, and I suspect I will do some shows on the West Coast and hopefully still write an album this year, but this very much feels like a retirement of sorts. Stylus: You’ll still be working the music industry, though. RM: Hoping to get on with a booking agency, it hit me like a lightning bolt and a brick wall at the same time. Start your own booking agency! After that, everything fell into place so quickly, and I’m already avidly booking a handful of spring and summer tours for some of the artists. I called it Sure Shot after my favourite Beastie Boys song. Stylus: There was some concern that you had become disillusioned with the scene here. RM: I am definitely not “fed up” with Winnipeg at all. I love Winnipeg. There isn’t one bad thing I can say about Winnipeg’s scene. In my opinion, it is the best across Canada and the reason I did anything in my career thus far. The calibre of talent in Winnipeg pushes you to be your best and the near family-like camaraderie is incomparable and encourages you to excel with confidence in all you do. Stylus: A few final words on what lays ahead? RM: In tow with this exciting new endeavour is my fulfilled desire to stay home and relax, country living style. Maybe get a dog. Stay in sweat pants a lot. You know, live the dream. Before she rides off into the sunset, Mayes has plans for a big birthday show at The Pyramid Cabaret on Friday, April 19, and will also be appearing at the Morden Corn & Apple, Trout Lake Music, and BBQ & Blues Festivals in August.
Apr/May 2013 Stylus Magazine
STYLUS DO ES SXSW
PHOTOS B Y ANDREW MAZURAK
CHECK OUT http://www.stylusm agazine.ca/sxsw/ FOR THE REST OF OUR PHO TO COVERAGE
014 Stylus Magazine Apr/May 2013
SNOOP DOGGY LION
ILLUSTRATION BY JAN CASTILLO
"MILLION DOLLAR" FOLK RECORD PAPER NICKELS by sheldon birnie
“I’ve been finding these songs for the last 20 years, hearing songs by peers that I wanted to sing,” Corin Raymond explains over the phone from Edmonton. Having just completed a string of shows in Alberta, Raymond is about to jump on a plane to Kamloops for a short tour of southern British Columbia in support of his “million dollar Canadian folk record,” Paper Nickels. Wait, what? Million dollar Canadian folk record? Don’t worry, friend. You’re not experiencing an acid flashback here. For the past year and a half, Winnipeg born, Toronto based singer-songwriter Corin Raymond has been collecting Canadian Tire Money (CTM) in a bizarre and purely Canadian crowd-sourcing experiment in order to finance a double-album of (mostly) cover songs, Paper Nickels. Each of the 20 tracks featured is written by a pal of Corin’s, including a good quarter of the album by Winnipeg based songwriters. At this time, Corin had accumulated some $7,000-odd in CTM. To amass that amount of Sandy McTires, about one million dollars would need to be spent on car batteries, hockey sticks, snow shovels, and the other fine products Canadian Tire stocks. “It just seemed like it was necessary,” Raymond explains, telling Stylus the project has been in the works for a few years now. “There are a lot of people recording songs that don’t need to be recorded. Songs by Leonard Cohen and Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. But there are these other folks that nobody really knows about who are writing songs as good as anything out there. That’s what Paper Nickels is all about. It’s a gallery of what we’ve got going on in this country.” With tunes from songwriters across Canada, and even a couple from “honourary” Canadians Jonathan Bird and David Ross MacDonald, Paper Nickels provides a great snapshot of our country’s thriving folk scene. “It’s just a tiny glimpse,” Corin admits humbly. “There could be 25 other Paper Nickels that would also represent the talent in this country right now.” www.stylusmagazine.ca www.stylusmagazine.ca
To anyone familiar with our local roots scene here in the Heart of the Continent, it should come as no surprise that a good portion of Paper Nickels’ raw material is sourced straight out of Winnipeg, featuring songs written by Rob Vaarmeyer, Scott Nolan, Andrew Neville & The Poor Choices, Ridley Bent, and a tune by Raymond called “Postcard from Winnipeg.” “Winnipeg is the Austin, Texas of Canada,” says Raymond. “There’s a lot of really great music going on in other cities, but as far as songwriters, bands, guitar players, the whole musical community is concerned, Winnipeg has it all going on.” Indeed, the inspiration itself behind the “Great Canadian Tire Caper of 2012,” as Corin has affectionately dubbed the strangely organic process that led to the release of Paper Nickels, originated in a snippet of a tune that Winnipeg’s Rob Vaarmeyer brought to Corin’s house one afternoon in Toronto. “Rob just has this amazing ability to land on those things,” recalls Raymond. “He showed up and he had the chorus to the song, and he sang those lines to me, ‘Don’t spend it honey, not the Canadian Tire Money.’ And I just thought it was amazing.” The two completed the song together that afternoon. Once Raymond started playing “Don’t Spend It Honey” live, people began tossing paper nickels (and dimes and quarters and dollars) on stage. When Raymond shared this new phenomenon he was encountering with his community online, the Canadian Tire Money literally began to pour in. (For a detailed account of the caper, pick up a copy of Paper Nickels, which includes a 144-page hardcover booklet complete with monologues, vignettes, and copies of dozens of letters and artwork Raymond received over the course of putting the album together). “Corin is a superhero,” Rob Vaarmeyer, whose song “Old Fort Mac” opens the album, told Stylus. “His power includes infectious love of songs.” Paper Nickels includes not only “Old Fort Mac” and “Don’t Spend It Honey,” but another Raymond/Vaarmeyer tune called “A Big Truck Brought It.”
“I wanted to write a truck song that only truckers would understand,” explains Vaarmeyer. “I showed it to Corin and he said ‘That’s awesome, but you gotta change one word.’ He told me his idea, and he was right. But I won’t tell you which word it was.” Vaarmeyer and Raymond first met at a Brandon Folk Festival while Rob was playing bass with Andrew Neville & The Poor Choices, who also have a tune featured on Paper Nickels. “He heard [“Brand New Song”] on our MySpace page,” Neville recalls between sets one Wednesday night at the Rose N Bee Pub. “He just loved it, [and] asked if he could just play it. I said, ‘Sure, man.’” “He played it everywhere,” continues Neville. “Every gig he had, he played that goddamn song. He’s taken it more places than I’ve been even. I love the fact that he does it.” “Corin’s one of the most selfless artists I know,” says Scott Nolan, who first met Raymond back in 2001 on a tour with the D-Rangers. Nolan’s song “Dutch” is featured on Side A of the album. “He is a true champion of the song, a rare and endearing quality.” Such selflessness and pure love of song comes across loud and clear when listening to Paper Nickels, flipping through the 144 pages of the booklet, or when watching Corin perform live. At its most base level, Paper Nickels is an interesting collection of Canadian folk music. At a higher level though, it is an incredible and touching display of what can be done in the Small Time when someone is passionate and committed to an idea and fearless of where that idea may take you. Catch Corin Raymond’s Winnipeg CD release for Paper Nickels at the Times Change(d) Friday April 5 and Saturday April 6. The shows will be “completely different,” according to Corin, so don’t miss out. Oh, and bring a couple paper nickels of your own if you get them to give to the cause. To date, Corin has raised over $7,333 in Canadian Tire Money towards production of the album.
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Red Box Radio
Saturday Nights from 8:00p.m. to 10:00p.m. on CKUW 95.9 FM or streaming online at www.ckuw.ca
While some people may find the task of curating a two-hour radio show daunting, for DJ Platform, or Dennis Lane, it’s just the extension of a pastime. “I’ve been following the whole hip hop culture since ’87 when I was eight years old,” Lane says. “Since then I’ve always been reading stuff: which albums are coming out, which singles are coming out… I incorporate my pastime into what I’m doing on the show, so it’s kind of not work in a way – just fun.” Lane is the host of Red Box Radio, a weekly hip-hop radio show that focuses on 80s, 90s, and underground hip hop and R & B. At the helm since 2009, Lane took over Rewind Saturdays from DJ Honeyflow. “She felt she had put so much time and effort into building an audience for hip hop for that time slot, and she knew that I’m hardcore into hip hop,” Lane recalls. “It was kind of around the same basis as what I’m doing, about playing the 80s and 90s, keeping that era alive. So that’s why she figured I would be a perfect match.” Born and raised in Winnipeg, Lane got his first gig as DJ Platform in 2001. “In the year 2000 a hip hop group called Dilated Peoples released an album called The Platform,” Lane explains. “I was just starting to get into DJing, needed a name and I loved that album – I listened to it all the time.”
His passion lies in what he refers to as the core of hip hop. “The core original, that’s what I wanted to do when I took the show over. I wanted to make
Catch Red Box Radio Saturday nights from 8:00 PM - 10:00 PM, on CKUW 95.9 FM.
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it so that it’s the core essence of hip hop,” he explains. “I come from the late 80s, early 90s, which they call the Golden Era of hip-hop.” “That’s why it’s easy for me to prepare for this show. I’m always focused on that era of hip hop, the era focused on core elements: b-boy, breaking, MC.” Along with hip hop from the past, Red Box Radio features independent, underground artists that Lane seeks out and thinks need more attention. Arguing mainstream hip hop has been watered down in a natural evolution, Lane finds what he loves of the genre in underground scenes. Having hosted the show for a few years now, Lane has started featuring more and more local guests from various genres, from Tiffany Ponce, to Diverse, to Abstract Artform. “Because I’ve already done shows by myself I feel like I’ve exhausted that, so if I have someone on with me it makes it more interactive,” says Lane. “We get to talk, and it’s just more fun that way.” An affable guy, Lane made sure to pay respects to those listening to his show. “I want to thank everybody out there listening to my show each and every week – calling in, giving feedback,” he says. “That drives me, so I appreciate that.”
NONSTOPHIPHOP Finding Balance After the Bad Dreams By Harrison Samphir Will the real emcees please stand up? If you have been following hip hop music at all since the new millennium, you should be able to identify a number of trends running concurrently through the industry. From club-conscious production to R&Binfluenced swooning, many “rap” and “hip hop” artists have moved decidedly outside the traditional delineations of the genre, charting new territories to stake claim in a popular sound or milieux. But what you probably haven’t noticed are the artists still staying true to the core tenets of hip hop music; remaining below the common radar while delivering the goods to an already devoted fan base. One such group is Swollen Members. The Vancouver-based trio–currently comprised of emcees Mad Child (Shane Bunting) and Prevail (Kiley Hendricks), along with producer Rob the Viking (Robin Hooper)–has been a nearly permanent staple in the Canadian rap scene for over two decades. Together, Swollen Members released ten albums, two compilations, dozens of singles, and garnered a rare mix of underground and mainstream success, a feat elusive to most artists. Launching with 1999’s Balance, the trio has vacillated between numerous lineups, at a time including Langford, B.C. legend Moka Only (Daniel Denton) from 1992-1996, and again between 2002-2005, along www.stylusmagazine.ca www.stylusmagazine.ca
with backup rappers Easy Roc and Zodak. Balance earned Swollen their first Juno Award for Best Rap Recording in 2001. It was a mighty achievement for a record that boasted only modest sales, selling a mere 41,000 copies in Canada. But the LP is now considered a Canadian classic, having magnified the importance of the west coast, Vancouver scene and partnering with California legends Dilated Peoples and Del tha Funkee Homosapien in the process. And the accolades didn’t stop there. The group’s second full-length release, Bad Dreams, would procure yet another Juno Award in the same category, reach Platinum status in Canada and penetrate deeper into US audiences than ever before (it sold 55,000 copies). With another two Junos in its possession–earned for 2003’s Monsters in the Closet and 2007’s Black Magic–and another half-dozen records under its belt, Swollen has returned with Beautiful Death Machine, an homage to the groups self-described “dark” and “melodic” idiosyncrasies. Speaking with Stylus on the phone from Victoria, B.C., Prevail shared his thoughts on the group’s ascension, offering a retrospective of sorts to elucidate its journey. “We grew up in the golden age of hip hop” recalls Hendricks in a humble yet enlightened tone. “There’s a lot of influence from the west coast, but we still consider ourselves abstract expressionists. . . we’re quite cryptic, allowing you to listen closely to different nuances and meanings.” Prevail and Mad Child have consistently brought a dualistic, contrast-
ing voice to Swollen’s sound. The former is an introspective lyricist with the expansive vocabulary of any cultivated rhetorician, while the latter is a smooth battle-rapper whose sharp yet often humorous rhymes carry an unmatched, distinctive accent. And the dichotomy has never been an issue. “I think Mad and I’s styles are quite different but complementary” says Hendricks. “We’ve been able to scope dark, brooding, heavy undertones in our music; you could say we have the best of both worlds. “[And] our work ethic has always been great. Mad is an advocate of hustling, and it’s within all of us. He rights the ship when things go wrong.” Certainly, from a duo whose roots lie in the bygone era of distributing 12”s, a durable partnership has withstood the vicissitudes of a changing industry. To Prevail, it’s “the same methodology, but a different state of delivery.” He continues, “Mad saw the change coming a long time ahead. When downloading came in, it portrayed everyone in the industry in a different light. . . now, there are very few degrees of separation, especially through social media. The lines are clear: you’re either an underground group, or you’re not. In a way it’s made the community more unified.” Swollen’s latest, Beautiful Death Machine, expectedly champions this more unified scene. Featuring numerous underground mainstays such as Vinnie Paz of Jedi Mind Tricks fame, Apathy, Celph Titled and hardcore rap legend Ill Bill, it’s a record designed for many varieties of hip hop head. And the production has been elevated, too.
“It’s been great and interesting to work with new producers” confirms Hendricks. “We obviously recorded with Rob the Viking, but this time we brought C-Lance into the fold.” The Massachusetts beat doctor is the youngest producer signed to Vinnie Paz’s Enemy Soil Records, and offers raucous appeal to Swollen’s new LP. For Prevail, its given the group “new and challenging opportunities to harken back to the old days.” As for the men he shares the mic with on the album, they’ve practically “become family.” “We have absolute killers on the album,” he said. “The quality of the verses they’ve given us speak volumes about the impact of our group. When they absolutely kill it, set it on fire, it makes us feel good about what we’re doing.” Preparing to embark on a crossCanada tour in support of the aforementioned disc, Prevail reminds listeners (and readers) to take advantage of Swollen’s hard work and make an effort to support the group. “I think fans realize that they have to show support because of the new challenges presented by a changing industry. If you’re going to get the album–dope. If you obtain it through other means, come to the show and buy a t-shirt.” For everyone else, it’s fair to say this won’t be the last you hear from Swollen Members. Expect Mad Child’s new EP, Super Beast, later this year, and a Prevail/Moka Only collaboration under the name SplitSphere sometime during summer, 2013.
Apr/May Apr/May 2013 Stylus Magazine
Local Spotlight register, like in the final sections of album closer “Time Will Change Us,” are thrilling. Pick this one up if you get a chance… or even better, catch one of her many shows and sway along. (Pipe & Hat, ingridgatin.com) Andrew Friesen
INGRID GATIN 1,000 Lives Ingrid Gatin’s sophomore LP, 1,000 Lives, sees the Winnipeg artist hitting her stride. Recorded both in Winnipeg and at the Montréal studio of Howard Bilerman, the album is a solid collection of earnest songs about love, longing and romance. 1,000 Lives has an agreeable sense of movement – likely thanks to the fact that Gatin has spent much of the last few years on the road. Born in Saskatchewan and raised in Brandon, Ingrid’s second album benefits from the polish that Grammynominated Bilerman brings. Layered with accordion, piano and lilting percussion, the 11 songs here seem designed to be swayed to. Standout tracks “Slow Dancing” and “Broken Tambourine” are addressed to a lover – or at least an object of affection – asking them to sing and dance. If you’re looking for a quiet disc to put on in the background, look elsewhere: this is a record that demands your attention. And while Gatin’s strong and straightforward vocals may not to be to everyone’s taste, the moments when she allows her voice to slip into a higher
BOATS A Fairway Full Of Miners While masterminded by Mat Klachefsky, who writes and sings all the songs, Boats is actually five-piece band, and on A Fairway Full Of Miners, they sound much more like a cohesive band than a collection of musicians supporting a single leader. This makes their third full-length effort a much tighter album and definitely their most accessible. Absurd is still the word for Boats with titles like “Advice On Bioluminescent Bears,” “O Jumbotron,” and “The Noodle Mountain.” The lyrics are suitably incongruent and abstract, though never sinking to insipid, “O mighty cuplink pincher, o frothy eater of sandwiches.” Klachefsky’s high nasal, almost cartoon-like vocals (think Geddy Lee or Neil Young, but brighter in tone) can be a bit challenging, as can the seemingly random bloops, bleeps, plinks and glitches. Ultimately, the underlying bedrock of light melodies and uptempo happy beats make A Fairway Full Of Miners a fun experience. The words don’t need to make sense to lighten your mood. The album artwork, by Meredith Holigroski, deserves mention, as it wonderfully mimics one of the original installations from the Winnipeg Airport. (Kill Rock Stars,
yeahboats.com) Broose Tulloch
ROB VAARMEYER Poster Child This solo release from Winnipeg’s Rob Vaarmeyer is a nice little display of the songwriting chops that RV commands. With just a voice and acoustic guitar (occasionally tracked with a second guitar courtesy of another quintessential local artist, Bobby Stahr), Poster Child is far from a highly produced, polished product, but it gets the job done. Tunes like “Snowbank” and “Famous in Winnipeg” will elicit smiles from proud prairie people, while “Do You Smell Something Burning?” and “Hard On Things” are bound to get chuckles from anyone. (Independent) Sheldon Birnie
ALEXANDER MCCOWAN Present Times Present Times’ packaging, simple black ink artwork on deep brown cardboard, has a warm, organic comfort to it, as does the music it contains. Winnipeg singer-songwriter Alexander McCowan has a rich, soothing voice that is perfectly suited to his words. The lyrics express a deep and profound connection to both the earth and the human condition and convey a sense of peace amid the chaos. This is most evident in the title track, a reminder to appreciate the moment we have and to breathe deeply, “Just behold these present times.” With McCowan’s warm vocals, this ballad takes on a hymn-like
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quality, and is absolutely gorgeous. This album moves seamlessly from deep to delightful; “Honey From The Honeybee” is a sweet bluegrass tumbler and “Portrait Of My Lady” is a playful love song, the complete line being “Portrait of my lady slipping on her blue jeans.” Present Times is a fine album start to finish, and an impressive follow-up to 2010’s Thief. (Independent, alexandermccowan.com) Broose Tulloch
CURTIS NOWOSAD The Skeptic And The Cynic For his debut recording Curtis Nowosad inserts a pair of original compositions to an album of jazz impressions of popular music. Spanning several genres, it’s an eclectic mix, with songs by Joni Mitchell, Roger Waters, Black Star, Tupac Shakur, and Bob Marley. The Skeptic And The Cynic opens with fresh interpretation of Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel.” Upping the tempo and making it swing, Nowosad captures those pre-date butterflies when your heart could burst through your chest. That bounce continues throughout the album, the jumpy title track keeps the toes tapping with a great beat, rolling baseline and punchy piano solos. Bandleader and drummer Curtis Nowosad is supported on The Skeptic And The Cynic, by an all-star lineup from the University of Manitoba Jazz Program, including Steve Kirby, Larry Roy, Jimmy Greene, Derrick Gardner, and Will Bonness. Other guests include Julian Bradford, another highly respected local musician, and Grammy nominee Taylor Eigeti. Though “California Love” and “My Old Man” tend to drag at times, the album as a whole does not, and is a consistent affair. A pleasant and quite enjoyable listen. (Independent, CurtisNowosad.com) Broose Tulloch
JOSH RITTER The Beast in its Tracks When I heard that Josh Ritter’s latest album The Beast in its Tracks was written in the shadow of the Ohio folkster’s divorce, I have to admit I was a little apprehensive. Break-up albums have their place, to be sure, but hearing a singer-songwriter spend an album wallowing in the wreckage of a failed relationship doesn’t sound like a ton of fun. Thankfully, The Beast in its Tracks is less of a wallow and more of a stroll through the shallows of moving on. While Ritter’s divorce hangs over the album, the songs on Beast are largely about release – about righting yourself and charting a new path without the fog of an old relationship hanging overhead. Rather than writing from the perspective of a man struggling through the messy months following his breakup, The Beast in its Tracks is placed firmly after the worst of it has come and gone. This isn’t Ritter dwelling on the past, but rather allowing himself to look forward and begin to feel hopeful about the future. “I’ve got a new lover now,” Ritter sings earnestly, without bitterness, “I hope you’ve got a lover too.” Musically, Beast tends towards a more stripped down approach than the artist’s last few releases. It’s an enjoyable listen – and while it’s not particularly pointed or raw, I guess that’s how we all aim to feel after moving on from a lost relationship. (Pytheas, joshritter. com) Andrew Friesen JUSTIN RUTLEDGE Valleyheart The latest from Canadian song-crafter extraordinaire Justin Rutledge is a subdued beauty of a record, perfect for bright mornings sipping coffee and getting your day together. Perhaps that’s just my reading of it, as Valleyheart has been my soundtrack for doing just that since it landed in my inbox. The arrangements are sparse, featuring Justin’s voice, almost
whispered at times, piano, guitar, and light percussion throughout. Album opener “Amen America” is a beautiful modern gospel, while “Downtown” is a tale of moving from a small town (or the ‘burbs) into the bustling heart of the city, set to a restrained country shuffle rhythm. “Kapuskasing Coffee” is one of the catchiest tunes I’ve heard all year, an upbeat elegy to early mornings two lovers once shared that gets in your head and stays there as you go about your day, shuffling from one point to the other through the cold. While Valleyheart never really lifts off and kicks out the jams, there is no point throughout where I found myself wanting it to. This is a great Canadian album, full of age old themes and timeless tunes. (Outside Music, justinrutledge.com) Sheldon Birnie
SORA Scorpion Moon Creating a new album following the success of her critically acclaimed recording Heartwood was no easy task for Calgary singer-songwriter Sora, but she has managed to conjure up another gem with the release of her latest album Scorpion Moon. Under the guidance of producer Douglas Romanow, who Sora also worked with on Heartwood, she has continued where Heartwood left off, putting together another collection of songs about myths and legends, children’s stories, archetypes and other fascinating subjects. To accomplish this, Sora utilized a diverse assortment of instruments, including some unique ones like the erhu and the charango. I particularly liked the influence of the cello and the harp on the sound, as it makes the music more mystical and magical. But the instruments never overpower Sora’s radiant voice, which varies from strong and powerful to light and airy depending on the mood of the song. I am sensing too that Sora’s sound is becoming more and more all her own, and less like her core musical influences. Her
goal is for her songs to be stories of what it means to be human, and this certainly comes across as you listen to Scorpion Moon. Of particular note on this recording is the ethereal opening track “Scheherazade,” which is subtitled “Scorpion Moon.” Other notable tracks on the album include “Mermaid Song,” “Hold,” and “Moving On.” However, all of the songs on this disc are enjoyable and tie nicely together, showcasing not only the talent of the singer, but of the guest musicians as well. It’s difficult to categorize this style of music, as the lines between new age, Celtic, folk, and even classical are blurred, but this blending of styles only serves to make the album appealing to a more diverse group of listeners. You will be left wanting more. Bravo Sora! (Independent, soramusic. ca) John Ivison WAYNE HANCOCK Ride The 11 tunes on Wayne Hancock’s Ride are pure driving country blues. With a voice not unlike Hank Sr’s and a killer band behind him, Wayne Hancock is, as Hank Williams III has said, “the real deal.” While tracks like “Low Down Blues,” “Get the Blues Low Down” or “Home With My Baby” could easily come off as derivative or downright hokey, this simply isn’t the case here. The songs and production on Ride are reverent of old school country blues without ever coming across as hackneyed. Just try listening to “Best to Be Alone” or “Deal Gone Down” and not get to cryin’ in your beer. I double dog dare you. (Bloodshot Records, bloodshotrecords.com) Sheldon Birnie JILL BARBER Chansons On her sixth album, Canadian chanteuse Jill Barber takes you to Paris with a layover in Montréal. Chansons is a collection of Barber’s favourite French and Québécois songs from the 40s, 50s, and 60s. Clean arrangements and warm tones create a rich ambience that Barber brings to life with soulful delivery. You hang on every word and every note as the songs draw you into their world and the story unfolds before your eyes. Her French is so exquisite, it’s hard to believe she’s been speaking the language for less than five years. After her last tour, Barber enrolled in a French immersion course before
recording Chansons. There’s a nice flow to the album even as the tempo, mood, and subject change from slow and melancholy (“Melancolie”) to breathy and sweeping (“La Javanaise”) to playful and bright (“Sous le Ciel de Paris”). The latter was a hit in 1954 for Edith Piaf, who Barber cites as a major inspiration, and the closing song “Adieu Foulards” dates back to the 1700s. Chansons is authentic, delightful, and leaves you wanting more. (Outside Music, jillbarber.com) Broose Tulloch CORIN RAYMOND & THE SUNDOWNERS Paper Nickels There is much to be said about the story behind Paper Nickels, the elaborate and inviting packaging, or any of the over a dozen songwriters whose tunes are on display. But this is not the space to do so [ed. note: check our feature in this issue]. Let’s focus instead on the music that Corin Raymond & The Sundowners recorded live over two nights in Toronto last year. The performances are top notch folk music, with Corin’s voice (and trademark stage banter between tracks) front row centre. The Sundowners, playing stand-up bass, piano and squeeze box, offer spot on but understated accompaniment to Raymond over both discs, with Treasa Levasseur on backup vocals, and taking centre stage for a beautiful rendition of Jonathan Byrd’s “Little Bird” midway through the first disc. With upbeat, tongue in cheek tunes like Bob Hannan’s “If I Were You Instead of Me,” A.G. Olmstead’s “The Lord Loves a Wino,” and Rob Vaarmeyer & Corin’s “A Big Truck Brought It” cohabitating nicely with tear jerkers like Scott Nolan’s “Dutch” and Max Metrault’s “Anastasia.” Stand out tracks, for me, are Corin & Co’s versions of Rob Vaarmeyer’s “Old Fort Mac,” Andrew Neville’s “Brand New Song,” and Ridley Bent & Dustin Bentall’s “Nine Inch Nails.” The tune that inspired the whole disc (and caper itself ), “Don’t Spend It Honey,” is also as beautiful a trailer trash love ballad as has ever been penned, north or south of the border. If you consider yourself a fan of folk music, you better be planning to pick this up if you haven’t done so already. (Independent, dontspendithoney.ca) Sheldon Birnie
Apr/May 2013 Stylus Magazine
BURIAL Truant/Rough Sleeper Burial is an artist whose sound is rooted in 1990s UK dance music: it is intimate, full of longing and regret, yet also equally as celebratory and hopeful, often all on the same track. His latest release, 2012’s Truant / Rough Sleeper continues to explore these same musical and emotional themes. Originally released as a 12” vinyl (with a digital release coinciding), it consists of 25 minutes of new music spread across two long tracks
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that serve as orchestral-suites. These musical themes evolve and crescendo with seamless fluidity, with mixtapelike epilogues - hazy snippets of which seem to be larger compositions united by abrupt silences. Propelled by slippery “clickity-clack” rhythms and basslines deeper than the canyons of Mars, both tracks are cloaked in deep atmospherics which manifest in the form of compression artifacts, static and fire crackle, wind chimes, clinking keys, cocking guns and tumbling shells. The A-side, “Truant,” begins with a claustrophobic and sexy groove (with one of Burial’s best vocal chops: “I fell in love with you / ‘cause you are the one”), only to build to a rousingly triumphant cacophony in its seventh minute. The track ends with several brief beats that sound as if they are half-remembered clips of songs heard in a dream: the effect is haunting after the cohesion present in the earlier part of the track. The B-side, “Rough Sleeper,” harkens to the gospel-garage of producers Todd
Edwards and Wookie, complete with the most tasteful and kick ass saxophone sample I have ever heard. It’s eventual chorus of “there is a light surrounding you / be strong” is seemingly directed at the title-subject of the track: it is empowering, it is reassuring, it is Burial at his finest. I highly recommend this release for fans of UK garage, dubstep, ambient and shoegaze. (Hyperdub, hyperdub.net) Alexandre Ilkkala-Boyer
PHILIP GLASS - SYMPHONY NO. 3; THE HOURS Manitoba Chamber Orchestra Anne Manson, Conductor Michael Riesman, Piano The latest release by the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, and first under the baton of current Music Director Anne Manson, features two works by American minimalist composer Philip Glass. The album was recorded live in concert in the CBC Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto on September 17, 2011, but this does not detract from the listening experience as there are no distracting sounds that often accompany live recordings. The “Suite from The Hours” is structured to resemble a three movement piano concerto, but it is in reality a medley of music from Glass’ 2002 film score “The Hours,” expertly arranged by the featured soloist, Michael Riesman, Music Director of the Philip Glass Ensemble. This cinematic concert suite is scored for piano, strings, harp and celesta, with the piano taking front and center for the most part. Given the soloist’s longstanding ties with the composer, this music would be very personal for him, and this is evident in his commanding performance of it. Philip Glass’ Symphony No. 3 predates the companion work by about seven years, but style-wise fits in quite nicely along side it. It was written for 19 string players, and was meant to treat each musician as a soloist. Despite this intention, the work is co-
hesive and flows smoothly with the MCO under Anne Manson’s skilful baton. She states that the music of Philip Glass “has a magnetic, mesmerizing effect on the audience,” and this is clearly the case listening to this recording. All in all this is an enjoyable recording from the MCO, an ensemble comprised almost entirely of musicians from the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. The music has harmony and melody, something quite rare with modern day composers of classical music, and for those who tend to favour more traditional classical music, this disc will have appeal. (Orange Mountain Music, themco.ca) John Ivison
CLOUDLAND CANYON Aureliua This spacey instrumental EP from San Francisco weirdos Cloudland Canyon is a doozy. The A-side’s 12 minute epoch title track is a slow build of analogue ticks, glitches, and synth sworls oscillates upwards, suggesting a spaceship of 1950s sci-fi vintage preparing for take off to worlds beyond our ken. The B-side is split between two shorter, though equally cosmic, tracks. The first cut, “Closer,” sees our intergalactic rust bucket approaching the gravity of a world light years from our own. Clouds obscure a lush view of the alien world below, as we begin our descent through the planet’s atmosphere. What strange inhabitants will we discover? “Light Falling” introduces us to our new companions, as we finally descend through to the world’s surface. They are a fearful bunch, initially quite hostile to our arrival, but warm to our presence in time. And that’s when things get really weird here. Take an electric trip to this world soon, if you can locate one of these limited 500 copies. (Great Pop Supplement, greatpopsupplement.com) Sheldon Birnie
PISSED JEANS Honeys Honeys is an album for those that prefer Bleach to Nevermind. Though they hail from Allentown, Pennsylvania, Pissed Jeans are a real throwback to the early days of Sub Pop records. Honeys, their fourth outing is abrasive and angry, noisy and purposely sloppy. The lyrics are piss and vinegar rants about everyday “niggling” irritants, like picking a health care plan or a big box employee drinking away their crappy job. With each listen the initial dissonance
seems to fade as the melodies rise to the forefront. The bleak minimal art and lack of information on the cover pair up well with the album’s sentiment. Or lack of sentiment, as is the case in the closer “Teenage Adult,” a great aural assault on staying at home rather than facing the world. Speaking of niggling irritant the lack of song listing on the cover is rather inconvenient. (Sub Pop, whitedenim.com/pissedjeans) Broose Tulloch
CHARLES BRADLEY Victim of Love It takes less than ten seconds. Seriously, at the eight-second mark I’m all in on Charles Bradley’s sophomore album. A ringing guitar chord jumps off a drum kick cliff and the fatbottomed bass bounces the song back into the sky where the herald horns announce their presence before a vibraslap (!) punctuates the opening. All this before Bradley’s baritone “ooh” and the backing vocals come in. Bradley may have taken his early inspiration for performance and vocal mannerisms from seeing James Brown
at the Apollo in 1962 (and earned a living impersonating him under the name “Black Velvet”), but sonically on Victim of Love – as on his debut record No Time For Dreaming – his closest sonic forebears are the likes of Jimmy Norman’s growl, Al Green’s impassioned wail and Brenton Wood’s melodicism. “Strictly Reserved For You” is a spectacular opener featuring the Menahan Street Band at their subtlest – providing support for Bradley’s vocals that dances around without distracting. “You Put The Flame On It” gives the Menahan horns a bit more of a workout and a chance to shine before stepping aside on the title track where it feels like a solitary spotlight is shining on Bradley at the center of the stage – the acoustic guitar, vibraphone and backing vocals are all pushed to the corners of the mix. It may have taken him six decades to find that spotlight but as Bradley demonstrates on this song (and on the album as a whole), he has no plans to relinquish it now. (Daptone Records / Dunham, daptonerecords.com) Michael Elves
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Under The Needle A bouncing dance beat remains constant as dreamy guitar lines turn into an angular chorus. If you’re a fan, I’m likely not telling you anything you don’t already know. And if you’re not, put down Labyrinth and pick up The Next Day. (ISO Records/Columbia, davidbowie.com) Matthew Dyck
DAVID BOWIE The Next Day After ten years of utter silence, David Bowie had his fans wondering if he would ever return with new material. Now, in true Bowie style, The Next Day is released without warning, showing us a version of the man we haven’t seen before. Over his decades-long career he’s taken on many identities – Ziggy Stardust being the most notable. But he’s always remained divisive. To fans, he’s the artist you can look to no matter the mood you’re in. He’s a mystery you can never really solve, but it’s incredibly rewarding to try. He’s the guy you struggle to describe to your friends who only know him as Jareth from Labyrinth. And to passive spectators, well, he’s just an oddity. More than anything, The Next Day proves that Bowie is still a creative force in rock-present, not just past. The Next Day sees Bowie with one foot in the present and one foot kicking his past in the face – the album cover is a vandalized version of Heroes. The first single, “Where Are We Now,” is a somber and uplifting reminiscence of his time in Berlin, where he recorded the beloved 1977 record. And, while that single serves up mellow nostalgia, “The Stars Are Out Tonight” is a biting commentary on the emptiness of celebrity, and sees a dance beat swim through reverbsoaked guitars. “Valentine’s Day” is a buoyant love song in a similar style to “Drive-In Saturday,” “I’d Rather Be High” stands out as an irreverent psychedelic/pop/rock ode to drugs and teenage sex, but “Dancing Out In Space” is, maybe, the most potent blend of old and new. “Dancing” will likely be the third single from The Next Day, and it’s something of a twofaced pop song not unlike “TVC15.”
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CHRIS OWENS Lysandre Chris Owens, songwriter, singer and guitarist, formerly of the band Girls, has released his first solo album since leaving the San Francisco group this past summer. Lysandre is a love story, with the same awesome effect as a Girls record. By merely closing your eyes you can be swiftly picked up and away from cold, bleak Winnipeg and find yourself catching some waves on a San Francisco beach in 1964, drinking coke out of a glass bottle. While Owens maintains much of what made the two Girls’ albums and one EP so impressive and different - such as their blatantly catchy tunes, soughtafter guitar tone, and new love songs that sound like old love songs - Lysandre at times comes off as gimmicky, overdone, and simply too upbeat and happy. Owens dismisses much of the dreaminess of his past work and replaces the ethereal with in-your-face love songs. At the start, “Riviera Rock” sounds to be an impressive and fun instrumental track but quickly begins to sound like a theme song from a Little Mermaid sequel. Tracks like “Here We Go Again” and “New York City” are excellent beach pop songs but the number of “ooh la las” is overwhelming at times. When Girls was at its very best and most interesting, Owens’ troubled childhood and his persistent feelings of fear came through in darker questioning songs that were unwound with phased out distortion and organ, while still expressing love and optimism. In Lysandre’s weakest track “Love is in the Ear of the Listener,” Owens sings “what if people are sick of hearing love songs, maybe I should just sing about dying.” It would be nice if he could go back to doing both. (Fat Possum, fatpossum.com) Gilad Carrol
(XL Recordings, atomsforpeace.info) Matthew Dyck
ATOMS FOR PEACE Amok When a group as diverse as Atoms for Peace releases their debut album, with it comes great expectations for something completely unexpected. What else can you predict from a band comprised of Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke; Red Hot Chili Pepper’s legendary bassist Flea; Beck’s trusted drummer Joey Waronker; and Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich? A lineup like that spells wet dream for fans of the members’ day jobs, and AFP has certainly had time to carve out something distinct since the supergroup formed in 2009 to play Yorke’s solo album, The Eraser. Unfortunately, Amok sounds more like a Thom Yorke basement project than a collaborative effort. And, where most of Yorke’s albums feel like a leap in his evolution, Amok doesn’t sound much more than a half step away from Radiohead’s King of Limbs. Although it focuses more heavily on idiosyncratic drum patterns and peculiar textures than what’s featured on King, Amok produces the same kind of anxious energy and creepy atmosphere. “Default” brings to mind Yorke’s possessed dance style, as seen in the “Lotus Flower” video, with its intermittent rim shots cutting through murky synths. “Ingenue” produces more of a flow with Yorke’s whisper hiding behind dripping water and a sort of dial-tone hook – it sounds better than it reads, I promise. “Stuck Together Pieces” is a highlight for its distinct Afrobeat flavor (which, apparently, was the common element driving the supergroup’s collaboration) and Flea’s presence is finally felt through a crisp bass-line. If you’re a Thom Yorke fan, consider this one worthy of your time, but not the same sort of intense discussion or debate his previous albums deserve.
DARK HORSES Black Music The cover of Dark Horses’ Black Music depicts the emptiness of outer space and is evocative of the sound of the album itself; that is, a vast empty vacuum devoid of substance. Though in fairness, there are many who might view such a starscape as beautiful, so one must not be mistaken in thinking that such beauty will also be found on Black Music. What we have here is a sort of poor man’s The xx, without any of the deep emotional resonance that band brings. Dark Horses create music that strives to be deep in its ambiance, and heavy in its minimalism. This is clear in one of the near-successes of the album “No Dice,” but this too suffers from the sprawling lack of interest that permeates the album - even the vocalist here seems to wish she was somewhere else. Perhaps most perplexing is a cover of the Talking Heads song “Road to Nowhere,” the title of which becomes ever more apt here. The true horror of this band covering the song can hardly be vocalized save for mad shouts of expletives between harrowed breaths. Worst of all is that the mediocre sound that they have worked so hard to cultivate is completely jettisoned here for a generic near-poppy indie sound. It’s not to say that one can’t employ multiple styles on an album, but the mode of cover employed here is so uncharacteristic to the tone of the rest of the album as to inspire some confusion. Where should this album be played? Hopefully in space, as the cover art depicts, because in space no one can hear you sing. (Last Gang, lastgangentertainment.com) Devin King
is CvK’s third release and, while not groundbreaking, has its own sound. It’s a good fit alongside the aforementioned bands, though not as punchy and the lead guitar has a brighter ring. The sun-drenched “Walk On Water,” with its lazy reggae beat, is a nice change of pace before the album closes on a somber note with “The Sorrows.” (Independent, christvkrishna.com) Broose Tulloch CHRIST VS KRISHNA Move and Scale Poor choice of band name aside, Christ vs Krishna make all the right moves on their latest EP. With elements of R.E.M., Go-Betweens, and pre-Lovegod Soup Dragons, Move And Scale plays like the soundtrack to a John Hughes teen flick. Frontman Pank Bagga owns that pensive 80s mumble-sing indicative of the jangle-pop sub-genre. Which is not to say he doesn’t enunciate; more often than not, the lyrics are completely discernible. You don’t need to know the words, the melodies are infectious and made for humming. Move And Scale
MY BLOODY VALENTINE mbv Something happened in early February that likely got many My Bloody Valentine fans cheering. The highly
influential band released m b v, their first full length since Loveless: the alt rock record that set the high water mark for shoegaze the same year Nevermind’s baby went for a swim (1991!). And, while I’d like to say I’ve been waiting for this album since I was three years old, I have to admit that I’m one of My Bloody Valentine’s most spoiled fans – I only discovered them after a friend directed me to this long-awaited gem. Despite my youthful inexperience, listening to both Loveless and m b v for the first time (and at the same time) has been, for lack of a better word, a real ear-opener. Here’s my comparison of Bloody old and Bloody new. While m b v delivers much of the dense layers, sonic waves, guitar wails and pitch bends that make Loveless an ageless rock artifact, it is not without its surprises. “She Found Now” and “Only Tomorrow” open the album with plenty of rumble and fuzz typical of MBV, but with crunchier, more abrasive tones. Front man Kevin Shields has the magic touch when it comes to producing, even though his
process could destroy a person’s patience more than Chinese Democracy. Both Shields and Bilinda Butcher’s whispered vocals sink below crashing waves of guitar without ever being drowned, surfacing every so often to deliver a melodic hook. Just like Loveless, the vocals in m b v are treated like any other instrument, making the mix sound like distinct parts and one organic mass all at the same time. It’s also proof that vocals can sometimes be better felt through surprising melodies than intelligible lyrics. One exception is m b v’s “New You,” the album’s catchiest and most accessible track that lets Butcher’s airy vocals fly over tremolo flutters and a fuzzed-out bass heartbeat. The atypical songs, like the organ-dominated “Is This And Yes” and the two-second loop of “Nothing Is,” I’m undecided on. Still, even the weakest new MBV song is a strong argument for the electric guitar’s relevance in a synth-saturated landscape. (Sire/Creation, mybloodyvalentine. org) Matthew Dyck
Apr/May Apr/May 2013 Stylus Magazine
FEAR OF MUSIC Sound and Vision : How an Out-of-Time Harlem Shake Dominated Music
PHOTO BY MAXIME QUOILIN
necessarily into the song that much (though, to be fair, it did log in a quarter of a million downloads) but are rather into the one particular moment of the song – the bass drop. This has been a pretty big trend in music generally, led by dubstep, that has allowed for nearly everyone who enjoys music to have a quick entry point into a song. Now this bass drop moment in a song can build anticipation to get you through the entire song, but just for that moment. And that moment is key to the success of “Harlem Shake.” Because even more than the drop in that moment, is the visual cues that come with it. I was in a high school shortly around the time that the video started going viral, and the students weren’t interested in the song or the drop. It was the sudden change of visuals – going from one lone dancer to many wild dancers – that entertained and amused. In fact, it probably could have been soundtracked by any song, as long as the timing of the bass drop was right. So it may very well be that the success of “Harlem Shake” has little to do with the song itself, ironically. What this does tell us is that for many outside
of the ivory tower cliques of music appreciation, understanding music is more than just a headphonesin-the-dark affair. Music for many is multimodal, incorporating elements of visual art and kinesthetic. By Devin King “Harlem Shake” typifies this, as does the recent hit “Gangnam Style” whose dance and visual humour At last, Billboard – the more or less irrelevant dihelped to make the song successful. This is not a nosaur of music popular measurement – inches new phenomenon. Intriguing music videos have forward into the present. After YouTube-generated always been a new entryway to great, or even only successes from Psy, Carly Rae Jepsen and Gotye, passably good songs. Billboard has now decided to factor YouTube views But perhaps most importantly is a distinct shift into its Top 100. This is particularly timely as you in the consumption of music – that is, that the conmay have just finished watching a video of mostly sumption of music becomes not only consumption, nothing, then suddenly lots of dancing. but in participation in the music itself. Part of the That’s right, “Harlem Shake,” the song which is success of “Harlem Shake” seems to originate not actually credited to an artist (Baauer) and not just solely in the song, but also in the interactive nature an interchangeable set of obnoxious mobs. At the of the experience. With modern tools and the relatime of writing this, the “Harlem Shake” is quite tively simple formula to create a “Harlem Shake” ubiquitous, with there being up to 4000 uploads of video, several disparate groups were able to create the song to YouTube per day. Not only is it plastered their own versions of the video. So it seems that the all over social media sites, it’s also making the news, future of music doesn’t just rest on what we hear, as the FAA investigates one flight that recorded the but what we do when we hear. Harlem Shake being done on a plane. Which perhaps leads to questioning the BillDespite whatever you may think of the song, it’s board rankings. If viewers are uploading because of significant for a few the video, but not the song, reasons. First, this is does it still count as listenonly the third time 95.9 FM CKUW CAMPUS/COMMUNITY RADIO ing to the music? It’s fair to an independent artist TOP 30 ALBUMS (Jan 29, 2013 – Mar 26, 2013) say that the way that we achas made the top of !=LOCAL CONTENT * =CANADIAN CONTENT re=RE-ENTRY TO CHART cess music has changed, but the 100 chart. In fact, when the “Harlem Shake” “Harlem Shake” reis uploaded, are viewers upplaces the second ever ARTIST RECORDING LABEL loading the song or the vidindependent artist, 1 ! This Hisses Anhedonia Transistor 66 eo? Or are those two even Macklemore, and the 2 ! Boats A Fairway Full of Miners Kill Rock Stars separable anymore? It can’t song “Thrift Shop.” 3 ! Greg Arcade Ready to Go Self-Released simply be the song, as the That it has taken un4 Yo La Tengo Fade Matador song itself was released in 5 ! Oh My Darling Venez Danser Self-Released til the early part of 6 * Bloodshot Bill So Blue Transistor 66 May of 2012 with no fan2013 for this to ever 7 ! JD Edwards Band Roads and Roads Self-Released fare, so clearly there’s somehappen shows that 8 * Lindi Ortega Cigarettes and Truckstops Self-Released thing more to music and A) independent art9 * We Are Wolves La Mort Pop Club Dare To Care our understanding than ists have, as we know, 10 ! Lazyhorse Lazyhorse Eat ‘Em Up just the sonics themselves. not had a strong com11 * Ron Sexsmith Forever Endeavour Warner So what does this mercial foothold and 12 * Whitehorse The Fate of The World Depends on This Kiss Six Shooter mean for music? Maybe B) increasingly, the 13 Toy Love Live At The Gluepot 1980 Goner it means that, going formodel of needing a 14 * The Burning Hell People Headless Owl ward, artists need to make major label in order to 15 Foxygen Jagjaguwar sure that they’re attractive be popular seems to 16 ! Quagmire Live Together, Die Alone Eat ‘Em Up 17 * The Sweet Lowdown May Self-Released (boy bands), weird lookbe waning. The inclu18 * Suuns Images Du Futur Secret City/Secretly Canadian ing (Psy), funny by way sion of YouTube vid19 * Tegan & Sara Heartthrob Warner of weird (Macklemore) or eos into the Hot 100 20 New Order Lost Sirens Warner presenting easy to intermay serve to open the 21 * AC Newman Shut Down The Streets Last Gang pret dances or visual cues floodgates and shift 22 * Annie Lou Grandma’s Rules For Drinking Self-Released (Baauer.) Also that artthe model of the mu23 Bat For Lashes The Haunted Man Parlophone/EMI ists are moving away from sic industry. Maybe. 24 Egyptian Project Ya Amar Six Degrees talking at us and more toBut secondly, 25 ! Phlem Fatale Glam Crust or Bust Transistor 66 wards talking with us. And “Harlem Shake” is 26 Unknown Mortal Orchestra II Jagjaguwar maybe, if necessary, as a last significant because of 27 * Bend Sinister Small Fame File Under: Music resort, you can think about what seems to be the 28 Habib Koite & Eric Bibb Brothers In Bamako Stony Plain 29 * Chris Antonik Better For You Self-Released the music. lack of attention to the 30 Spy From Cairo Arabadub Wonderwheel song itself. It doesn’t seem that people are We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic
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winnipeg folk festival concerts Billy Bragg
The Tooth & nail Tour with special guest kim Churchill
Belle Starr April 12,
April 10, GArriCk CenTre
with special guest romi Mayes
April 17, WesT end CulTurAl CenTre
PiCKWiCK with special guest Jordan klassen Steve BroCKley Band April 17, pArk TheATre
Family oF the year Flying Fox and the hunter gathererS April 27,
April 29, pArk TheATre
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Apr/May 2013 Stylus Magazine
Published on Apr 4, 2013
Featuring Blue Hawaii, Swollen Members, Corin Raymond and Winnipeg's KEN mode, Romi Mayes and VIKINGS // Album reviews of Burial, Pissed Jea...