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Apr/May Volume22 Issue2

Published by the University of Winnipeg Students' Association

December/January 2009 Stylus Magazine



02 2009

Stylus Magazine



Apr/May Issue2 2011Volume22

On the Cover NICK VAN DOESELAAR is an aspiring graphic designer who has already made art for the NY musician Darwin Deez. He’s also a new writer for Stylus. And well-versed in his pencil crayons as well as photoshop, this dude’s a triple threat. If you’d like to contact him, email him at nickface@mymts. net.

Production Team Editor . . . . . . . . . . . Taylor Benjamin Burgess Assistant Editor . . . . . . . . . . . Brietta O’Leary Art Director . . . . . . . . . . . . Andrew Mazurak Distributor . . . . . . . . . . Patrick Michalishyn Advertising Manager. . . . . . . . . . Ted Turner 204-786-9779, Cover Art . . . . . . . . . . . Nick Van Doeselaar Printed by Copy Plus Inc. . . . . 204-232-3558

Contributors RB Beniza Kyra Leib Kent Davies Elise d’Awson Nick Van Doeselaar David Nowacki Marc Evans Patrick Michalishyn Victoria King Adrienne Yeung

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

TableofContents Blah, Blah, Blah Events around town . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 47 Thoughts Letter from the editor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 CKUW Program Guide . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 CKUWho Tiger Lilies Are Poisonous. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Mental Notes Pac Div, Pigeon Hole . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Local Spotlight Flying Fox and the Hunter Gatherers, White Dog . . . . . . . 21 Ulteriors Julianna Barwick, Gary War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Root Cellar Lia Ices, Ben + Vesper. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Jukebot Le Pop 6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Tickle Trunk Major Organ and the Adding Machine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Under the Needle Yuck, Ringo Deathstar, Obits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Weird Shit with Kent Davies Out with the Old . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28

Features Flying Fox and the Hunter Gatherers . . 7

Smoky Tiger . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Who are The Suburbs? . . . . . . . . . 11 Balanced Records . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Jonnies Sticky Buns . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Who Polices the Witchpolice? . . . . 15 KEN mode . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17

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.


Apr/May 2011 Stylus Magazine


Blah, Blah, Blah Canuck rapper Classified will be busting into the Garrick Centre on Apr 8 with guests. *** Also on April 8, Canuck rocker Hawksley Workman will be doing his thing at the West End Cultural Centre. *** Over at the Lo Pub, local Cantor Dust will be releasing Safaris I’ve Been On. *** Psychosexual 5 will be going on at The Zoo with A-Ok, Counterpoint, Cubermotion, Lo Progression, and visuals by Onion Union. That’s happening April 9. *** Winnipeg’s own prolific sweetheart troubadour Del Barber at the Park Theatre on April 9 with Jenn Grant. *** Release your inhibitions, DJs Hunnicutt and Co-Op are going up against rowdy rockers the Steamers at the Pyramid on April 9. The chosen method of the duel? Eighties mash ups. *** True story: Winnipeg Free Press’ Bartley Kives used to be an editor for Stylus and he reviewed Nirvana’s Nevermind. Unrelatedly, Cobain Tribute Show XIII is happening at the Zoo on Apr 9 with Giv’R, The Nooners, Cocktail Hostages, and Out From the Shadows at the Zoo. *** Winnipeg’s premier jazz drummer Curtis Nowosad will be playing at Aqua books at April 9, as will Les Jupes’ Michael Petkau Falk. *** Celebrating Yuri Gagarin’s first space flight, Yuri’s Night 2011 will be happening at the Manitoba Museum also on April 9, including a Fairly Scientific Indie Science Fair, a space arcade, Lebeato, Mr. Ghosty, Bit Cadet, DJ Self, and other cosmonautical themed indie stuff. *** Take in some Wine & Words at Red River College’s Princess Street Campus with new writings by Diana Fiitzgerald Bryden, Sarah Selecky, Joyce Maynard, Rick Chafe, Michelle Elrick, Robert Hough, and more. That happens April 9. *** Proud Scots The Real Mckenzies will be playing the Royal Albert on (what is seeming to be an epic win of a night) April 9. They will be rocking out with proud Franco-Manitobans Les Sexy. *** The Stereos are going to be at the Garrick on April 9 with Neverest and Solomon. *** And to top off this socialite night, Crystal Precious, sweet soul’s queen of sass, razor-witted burlesque performer will be backed by Stylus’s fav DJs, Mama Cutsworth and Cyclist. *** Legendary gang-rappers Onyx will be playing with Winnipegs Most, Echonawmik, DJ Kinetik on April 10 at the Pyramid. *** Burlesque and psychobilly performer Big John Bates will be at the Pyramid on April 11. *** Peg’s own the Eardrums will be at Aqua Books on April 12. And Adam Young will be playing there later that night, with Alana Levandoski. *** Eeny teeny indie boppers of choice Tokyo Police Club will be at the Pyramid Cabaret on April 13 with Dinosaur Bones and Said the Whale. *** Dan Bejar, Vancouver’s Destroyer will be playing the WECC on April 13, likely to play most the jams

off his new album Kaputt. *** Winnipeg Puppet Collective’s got a Puppet Slam at Aqua Books on April 13. Word, ’nuff said. *** Pasadena’s Death Angel will be at the Zoo on April 15 with Besieged, Malum Fatum, and Zombie Assault. *** August Burns Your Fire will be at the Garrick Centre on April 15 with notorious pop-punkers Set Your Goals, Born Osiris, and Texasin. *** On April 15, Nova, Yoyote, and The Heartbeat City will be at the Lo Pub. And on April 16, the Lo will host Sandman Viper Command and A Waste Odyssey. *** On April 16, the Royal Albert will be host to Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme book launch, including readings from Ivan E. Coyote, Zena Sharman, Chandra Mayor, Wanda Wilson, and Lizzy La La. *** Flying Fox and the Hunter Gatherers, who are interviewed in this issue, are playing the WECC on April 16 to release their full-length album Hans My Lion. *** On April 17, the Flow & Tell Tour will be stopping into the Pyramid Cabaret, featuring Abstract Rude, 2Mex, and Awol One. *** The Lo Pub will be pretty hip on April 19, with Duzheknew, Cousins, and new locals Slow Dancers. It’ll be hip on April 21 too, with local favs Ultra Mega, Vampires, and Ian La Rue’s new project the Heartbeat City. *** On April 21, at the West End Cultural Centre, the humorous Kid Koala will be playing with Magnum K.I. *** Also on April 21, the Royal Albert will be host to Heatherfest, in support of Heather Makar, who’s recently suffered a serious injury. Bands playing include Big Trouble in Little China, Putrescence, Wolbachia, Of Human Bondage, and Antikathera. *** At the Zoo and Ozzy’s on April 23, it’s Bass Invaders, with Ill Esha, Ashburner, Riddim & Turtilian, Billy Rockwell, Coda, MC Pucona, The Silver Fox & Theo Tzu, Encode, DJ Swat, Black Forest, Mr. Ghosty, and Jaymez. Holy moly. *** Matt Epp & the Amorian Assembly will be doing an album release at the WECC on April 23. *** After touring and getting widespread love for their album Let’s All March Back Into the Sea, the Liptonians will be playing the Lo Pub on April 23. *** The Found Footage Festival promises to be “the night of the worst in VHS” at the Royal Albert on April 26. Many lawlz to be had. *** Seminal band the Pixies will be playing the Centennial Concert Hall on April 26 and 27, but that’s already way sold out. That’s good news for Winnipeg’s Imaginary Cities though, who are joining them for their entire North American tour. Srsly. *** Sweet folk singers Bog River will be at Aqua Books on April 27. *** Fish & Bird will be at the Folk Exchange on April 29. *** Mortfell Oktorium member Steve Basham will be releasing Thick Cuts at

the Death Trap on April 29. There will be much fun to be had there! *** On April 30, indie pop/ dance maniacs Gobble Gobble are going to slay the Lo Pub again. And this time, they’re bringing their spooky friends Deadhorse. *** Comedian David Sedaris will be stopping in to the Burton’s Cumming Theatre on May 3. *** Last year’s Plastic Paper Festival went off without a hitch, and tons of original programming. And this year, the festival of animated, illustrated, and puppet films, is bound to be just as great. But can anything top Barry Doupé’s Ponytail?! Stay tuned. *** Heavy heavyweights Cancer Bats and 3 Inches of Blood will be at the West End Cultural Centure on May 5. *** New locals Burnt Witch Survivors Group will be at the Death Trap on May 7. Apparently you can grab free demos of theirs at War On Music while they last. *** Serenade-singing sweethearts Amelia Curran and Erin Costello will be at the Park Theatre on May 10. *** The event is named A Journey Through Time and Space. It includes locals Mahogany Frog, Shooting Guns, Absent Sound, and Scab Smoker, as well as IMGC and Feral Children. It’s happening at the Ellice Theatre on May 14. *** The 2nd Annual 24-hour Nonstop A-Zone Co-op Web-a-thon Fundraiser will be on Sat May 14, kicking off at 3 p.m. See it live at Mondragon and it will be webcast at a-zone. org. It’s important to protect what we’ve got before it’s gone. Y’dig? *** Heavy Metal Stoner Camaro will be at the Death Trap with Astro Coven, and Hell & Malfunction on May 14. *** Say goodbye to Winnipeg’s most prominent ska label. Bacteria Buffet Records is presenting End of an Era at the West End Cultural Centre on May 14 with the Barrymores, JFK, RWPO, The Afterbeat, Greg Crowe, and DJ Co-op. *** Hallows Die and Woods of Ypres are at the Death Trap for May 15. *** Contemporary funk and soul queen Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings will be at the Garrick on May 20 with Black Joe Lewis. *** Coming up fast, Neon Indian will be playing at the Pyramid Cabaret on May 21. There’s been listings of the ultraawesome Sleigh Bells joining them, but still some debate whether they will be or won’t be. We’ve got our fingers crossed, but whatever, it’s just a band, right? *** Japanese recording artist Merzbow will be playing the Royal Albert with Winnipeg’s Venetian Snares and Not Half on May 22. *** Recently revived band Anvil will be at the Albert on May 24 with guests. *** Ghostly Timber Timbre will be at the Park Theatre on May 26 with guests. *** And finally, it take some time, but everything’ll be alright. Jimmy Eat World are coming to the Garrick Centre on May 26.

Apr/May 2011 Stylus Magazine


LISTEN LOCAL ~ Grow Global 2 ~ Friday April 29th @ WECC


BALANCED RECORDS 10 YEAR ANNIVERSARY PARTY Saturday April 30th @ Site Studios in The Exchange FEMREV Friday May 6th @ The Lo Pub THE 2ND ANNUAL 24-HOUR NONSTOP A-ZONE CO-OP WEB-A-THON Saturday/Sunday May 14th & 15th Live at Mondragon and webcast at THE 25TH ANNUAL TEDDY BEARS’ PICNIC Sunday May 29th @ Assiniboine Park

47 Thoughts

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1. I wonder if Lasha Mowchun is going to publicly admit that she hung up those shoes on the wire over Wellington Crescent. 2. Another two months, another issue of Stylus. So far, our new art director Andrew Mazurak has been a pleasure to work with. He commented on my No Age t-shirt the other day, so that’s a good sign. 3. I’ve been seeing a lot of 2 of Clubs signs around, still. 4. Diamond Rings and PS I Love You at the Lo Pub were glam-tastic and loud, respectively. PS I Love You’s drummer uses four-on-the-floor beats? But they’re an indie band! 5. Twenty years later, I wouldn’t say Pavement has eclipsed Nirvana, but how many bands (or music journalists) reference Kurt Cobain regularly today? 6. The 2nd RebELLEs Pan-Canadian Young Feminist Gathering should be an exciting time around Winnipeg. That happens in May. 7. Eye make-up. 8. Tumblr. 9. Twitter. 10. The golden ratio. 11. Italo Calvino. 12. I picked up Jonathan Ball’s Clockfire, and so far, so good. Sooooo good. 13. With the awkward timing of Stylus, it’s unfortunate that we couldn’t preview or review Cluster Festival. The same thing happened with send + receive. Eerie. 14. Wow, 47 is a big number, now that I think about it. 15. Three by five. 16. Eight by two. 17. Prime number, lol. 18. Rhythm is EVERYWHERE. 19. Math is everywhere too. 20. Alpha Couple seems to be doing nicely on their tour. 21. Didn’t have a lot of fun. 22. Oh my, and uh, boo hoo. 23. What did David Dobbs say was the answer to all of life’s questions? Something about the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. 24. Yes, the articles in Stylus are becoming less traditional. Less artist-focused. Can you dig? 25. My god, what an indie in-joke Dig has become. 26. Was Kanye right that when Arcade Fire wins, we all win? 27. What with gender equality, we are seeing “they” being accepted as a singular third person pronoun. That’s pretty exciting, isn’t it? 28. Congrats to Weird Canada, for winning CBC Radio 3’s best Canadian website. 29. Netflix, what a horrible addiction. 30. Mad Men, what a horrible addiction. 31. How important can a single tweet become? 32. Some Facebook groups are getting pretty legit and serious, like [noise], For when we need to eat, and Places for Peanuts. Check ’em out, if you can. 33. I heard the Bike Dump needs volunteers. 34. “What to do with a B.A.?” 35. Have you found your favourite CKUW show yet? Collect ’em all! 36. What’s with my allusions to heaven in two of my reviews in this issue? 37. Forty-seven is so close, but now I just feel like I’m dredging up the unimportant. 38. There’s a lot of focus on local labels in this issue, but not necessarily bands. Whatevs. 39. I’m really excited for next issue, although I’m not going to say why, just yet. 40. Ugh, I just had to leave five of my favourite albums in the car when it was going into the shop. 41. wat is professionalism? 42. Meow. 43. Woof. 44. I’m still listening to Fletcher Pratt’s Deathdubs and Alpha Couple’s Stalingrad. 45. Who reads a letter from the editor anyways? 46. I really do hope Sleigh Bells come with Neon Indian. 47. Stay frosty, Winnipeg. – Taylor Burgess

Stylus Magazine


Flying Fox and the Hunter Gatherers

Flugelhorn and Folk Tales By Adrienne Yeung This may be their first full-length album, but Flying Fox and the Hunter Gatherers are no newcomers to music in any sense. The classically trained sextet combines elements of jazz, pop, and gypsy folk to create an old-world influenced, complex, and orchestral sound that’s incredibly rich and gorgeous. They released their self-titled EP in August 2008, and performed hit show The Wild Things at the Fringe Festival last summer. Stylus joined lead vocalist Jesse Krause and keyboardist Darren Grunau for breakfast at the Ellice Café to chat about their new album Hans My Lion, which was released March 15. Stylus: How would you guys describe your sound? Darren Grunau: Big band burlesque? Jesse Krause: BOLD big-band burlesque. DG: Yeah, get some more ‘b’s in there! Stylus: Hans My Lion, the character, was born from a human mother, and is very isolated and angry at the world. How did you think him up? JK: Hans My Lion is based on Hans My Hedgehog, a German folk tale that was collected by the Brothers Grimm. Yeah, it’s a very similar story but with a hedgehog instead of a lion. He’s not ostracized for anything that he’s actually done, but Hans My Lion does something bad in the middle of the album that forces him to leave. DG: Hans My Hedgehog rode a giant rooster! You know, just a point of interest. Which Jesse neglected to include in the album!! Stylus: Why a lion instead of a hedgehog? JK: Lions are more charismatic…I mean, with a hedgehog, you could relate to it as feeling really strange, and not meant to fit into a human world because you’re prickly, and people will avoid you. Whereas with a lion, you’re not meant to fit into a human world because you’re bigger and more violent than people around you. Which is something that I relate to, because, well, I’m a big guy, and I’m physically rough, you know, but more in a playful way more than an angry way. Stylus: What are your favourite songs on this album? JK: Some of them we’ve played longer than others, so some of them have more novelty value. I’d say everyone’s still enjoying playing “Starling.” DG: Not to say that we do a bad job of playing “Nurse” (which was on the EP). But both “Winter” and “Autumn” developed orchestral lines a lot better. “Autumn” is one of my favourites because at the end there’s these cascading strings and this buildup — the horns are going, and it’s just a lot more epic. Stylus: Yeah, I was noticing, in the instrument list, there’s an abrasophone, a concertina, flugelhorn. Are you guys classically trained in these more unconventional instruments as well?

JK: Hahaha, not the abrasophone, which is a little box with some tines off a leaf rake on it. You play it with a bow, and it sounds very abrasive. DG: Yeah, it sounds very bad! JK: It’s the soundscape between “Hans My Lion I” and “Hammer.” And if you listen closely you can hear the... dulcet grating tones of the abrasophone. [Both are delighted at this sound byte.] DG: But Steve is most definitely trained in the flugelhorn! Yeah, everyone can definitely read notes and understand complex harmonic tunes. Stylus: What was it about the two songs from your EP and rock opera The Wild Things that made it onto this record? DG: “Nurse” starts strong. It sounds great right off the hop. We thought not many people would have listened to our EP, so we wanted to give it another change to make it into public consciousness. And we wanted to expand on “Loneliness.” JK: We spent one day tracking the whole of The Wild Things album. So that’s, well, that’s pretty quick. Stylus: In comparison, how long did it take you to put this record together? JK: This was 14 days of tracking, total? DG: Yeah, and a week of mixing. So we had a lot of extra time to layer, to add on extra harmonies. Whereas The Wild Things was all about doing everything live on the floor and just getting it right, you know? JK: Some of that’s related to our musical style, the way that we go about making music. More straight ahead pop music relies on a lot of instruments filling the same musical role. With Flying Fox, every niche is filled by usually just one instrument. DG: Yeah, I think we spent more time strategizing than another rock band does. Because when a pop band writes a song they traditionally sort of lay down the base tracks and then they layer extra stuff on top, like “we might want to put more glockenspiel here.” But if I were to improvise my piano part at a certain part, I’m occupying a space that Steve had wanted to fill, already planned to fill and had already written music to fill and then suddenly bam! I just throw up this huge fucking block. Stylus: What kind of non-music influences do you guys carry? Ideas, places... things... DG: I’ve always really loved folk tales. I also think, we’re both Mennonites. There is a small amount of repression that goes on [in the culture]. So I think for that reason, the darkness of folk tales is appealing. JK: There’s been a lot of darkness in Mennonite-Anabaptist history. Also, it was only two generations away that lots of our relatives had the shit kicked out of them [in WWII]. And that’s sort of our interest in folk tales, in stories, and the important narratives; they give you some sense of where you are in the world. A folk tale is interesting because it gives you a sense of where you should exist in the world as far as your imagination is concerned, if you allow yourself to kind of be enveloped in it and believe that it is your story. Flying Fox and the Hunter gatherers are holding their CD release party at the WECC on April 19 before embarking on a six-week tour across Canada.

Apr/May 2011 Stylus Magazine


Smoky Tiger

In the Lair of the Tiger and the Bandit By Kyra Leib

Andrew Courtnage a.k.a. Smoky Tiger is Winnipeg’s own psychedelic funk wizard. Smoky Tiger recently focused on writing music about Manitoban history. I was able to lasso him along with his partner in crime Josey Krahn for an enlightening interview. I walked up the metal stairs to the top floor studio loft of Winnipeg’s own mystical tiger man. Once inside, I was generously greeted by the offer of a berry smoothie and Smoky Tiger’s beautiful cat. Josey, a member of Smoky Tiger and the Manitobandits sat on a couch as I entered the living room with Andrew. As I struggled to withhold my berry smoothie from Smoky Tiger’s cat, I began asking questions. Stylus: What are some of Smoky Tiger and The Manitobandits musical influences? Josey Krahn: Disco, Pink Floyd, the Beatles, anything with a beat and some weird lyrics. Andrew Courtnage: The circa 1991 Korean Mac laptop upon which I record all the Smoky Tiger music mysteriously resets itself to December 1969 every time I unplug it. This is a perfect metaphor for the vibration which influences the Smoky Tiger sound. I feel a kinship for the great visitation of energy which shaped the culture and society of the golden-classic era, yet I cannot deny the appeal of our space age bells and digital whistles. The Smoky Tiger is mostly about spiritually transformational, shamanically positive, Manitoban vibrations. Stylus: Do you guys feel like there is a deficit of music coming out of Winnipeg which discusses Manitoba’s history and historical figures? AC: I think that we’ve for many years had an anti-pride. Our attitude has been that “Oh, let’s sing about Winnipeg and how much it sucks.” I think that we are starting to climb out from under that rock. We are proud of this place. It’s actually a fucking gnarly place. [A brief pause in the interview as an object falls off the record player. I suspect it’s the cat.] Stylus: In terms of songwriting do you have any habits or processes you go through? JK: I would say that the only consistent songwrit-

ing process we have is to start with a 14- to 15hour marathon jam, then do it again two days later. [Chuckles] And herbs and spices help a lot too. Stylus: Do you have any new songs or projects coming up? AC: Well we really want to get these Manitoba songs out there. After that, the sky is the limit. I was thinking of doing a similar album about every religious prophet. For Louis Riel, we incorporated his very complicated story into one five to six minute psychedelic rock and roll format. Imagine a psychedelic rock format for Lao Tzu, for Mohammed. JK: Like the bible or the Quran set to psychedelic rock. AC: It would be educational psychedelic rock. JK: We could do science textbooks. AC: The thing is that singing about all these Manitoban heroes, it’s like we’re summoning ghosts. So we got Cuthbert Grant, Louis Riel and Ken Leishman. These are all guys that it’s great to have on your back. So it’s kind of like we’re summoning these ghosts in order to protect and guide our band. That is why we might move to religious figures, because then we would have Jesus on our backs! Stylus: How is your band lineup working right now, is it permanent or do you have a revolving door thing going on? AC: I would say a revolving door; we have some regulars like me and Josey. We’re taking recruits if anybody is interested in contacting us. We’ve had brass, we’ve had violin players. JK: We had cello. AC: We even had a bagpiper that would come and open for us. JK: We used to have a bagpipe-banjo combo. Stylus: I can play the triangle. AC: Really? You’re in. Stylus: Do you guys collect any modern tales of weirdos or people who stand out in Winnipeg? AC: Another one we’re going to do soon is Donny Lalonde and he’s relatively recent. He was a boxer with a golden mullet in 1984. JK: They called him the Golden Boy. AC: He was really a top notch boxer. We still have to do one about the General Strike. We’re going to write a song about Winnipeg’s homeless pretty

soon. JK: There are a lot of colourful homeless people. For example there is the crying toonie lady, Faron Hall, that guy is heroic. Stylus: Would you guys be open to a song suggestion box on Facebook perhaps? AC: Sure JK: Yeah, definitely. That’s a fantastic idea. It’s a shout out to all of Winnipeg. We’ll talk to John at Times and do songs exclusively by request, written by request. AC: The Narcisse Snake Pits would be a good one. JK: Yeah, or Lake Agassiz man, with Morden on the bottom of Lake Aggasiz. Stylus: When did you two start playing together? AC: We used to live in this run-down house on Knappen with Righteous Ike. He lived in the backroom and he was kind of like our spiritual father. We just got drunk all the time and played music, he would come out and play with us. He sort of taught us how to play. Stylus: How did you get the indefinite spot playing at Times Changed? AC: We have been friends with John Scoles for a long time. JK: If Righteous Ike Friesen is our spiritual father then John Scoles is our spiritual creepy uncle. Stylus: You say that he is creepy? [AC and JK laugh] JK: He’s not creepy at all, I’m just making fun. From Ike we learned sound, from John we learned how to really dig in to local music. John is like a fountain of knowledge about weird local history, he is a big proponent of Winnipeg. AC: I would just like to clarify details about the band name, et cetera. I represent Smoky Tiger, me personally. Smoky Tiger albums are all recorded, produced and performed by only myself in my home studio. The live band is called the Smoky Tiger and the Manitobandits. The smoky tiger is our chief power animal, being the largest land carnivore to exist roaming the Manitoba prairies, the saber tooth tiger that is now extinct is our guardian spirit. You can Catch Smoky Tiger and the Manitobandits at Times Change(d) every second Thursday.

Apr/May 2011 Stylus Magazine


Who are The Suburbs and why have they stolen Slim’s Grammy By David Nowacki


When Barbra Streisand stutteringly and with contorted effort announced Arcade Fire to be the recipients of the Album of the Year award at the Grammys, her seeming ignorance of who the evening’s winners were, let alone how to pronounce their name, seemed demurely aged but reasonable for a near-septuagenarian who seemingly spends most of her time waxing nostalgic and eyebrows rather than paying attention to what the kids are listening to. Her reaction, however, was facsimiled across the faces of the general viewership, who inevitably took to that bastion of unrequited fury that is the Internet. Social networks, most visibly Twitter, were instantly peppered with CAPS LOCK’d and profanity-laden tirades of unimaginable fury directed at the quiet Canucks who had obviously stolen a coveted Grammy from right under a formidable group of Billboard-dominating heavyweights comprised of Eminem, Lady Gaga, Lady Antebellum (who had already won five of the six awards they had been nominated for that night), and Katy Perry. There was such an outpouring of abject and violent rage that an amused looker-on was quick to open a Tumblr account as a forum for the previously uncollected outbursts, which read like an irate fifth-grader’s account of how his best buddy was horribly jilted at the most recent school talent show. It coerced a brief chuckle out of me at the range of near-unintelligible rants from random nobodies from the omnipresent Internet decrying loudly (ALL CAPS) the ascension of the random nobodies from Canada to music’s greatest pantheon (scoff ), to the barely-intelligible quips of celebrity nobodies such as Tawny Kitaen (she was in a Poison video once), Rosie O’Donnell (famed gape-

mouthed nose-talker, “comedian”) and Dog the Bounty Hunter, whose Grammy-related opinions I, and I’m sure most others, was achingly, quakingly anticipating. Most of them harangued the album’s lack of sales or ubiquity as the main reason for Arcade Fire not deserving it, or they simply didn’t know who the band was and felt cheated by their industry-faulted ignorance. So what does this reflect on the behalf of the Grammy committee? A fair few of these posts claimed the committee is out of touch or simply ignorant of the modern music scene. Let us take a trip down this road, and examine the cultural and musical significance of the nominees this year: 1– Recovery, by Eminem – The controversial rapper’s fifth studio album and second nomination for an album of the year was also one of his most critically panned, albeit one of the most loved by his fan base (according to What it really was was a substandard rap album that, while commercially successful, was the “comeback” of a tired routine that hasn’t been relevant or interesting to the public as a whole in close to a decade. 2– Need You Now, by Lady Antebellum – To be honest, I don’t really know much about this record save that Lady Antebellum, from my recollection of being forced to listen to their albums every day when I worked at an unnamed record chain, is that they are a modern pop-country band. They sing pop songs with twangy guitar in the background. Popular, probably. Important, unlikely. 3– The Fame Monster, by Lady Gaga – While incredibly commercially successful, this album was simply a repackage of her debut, The Fame, with


a couple of songs tacked on. The fact that it was even nominated for Album of the Year belies how strongly the category is influenced by sales and media exposure.

4– Teenage Dream, by Katy Perry – While catchy, it is essentially a standard pop album by a womanchild whose main talent is having, and heaving, magnificently large breasts. I’m sure this slot was contested between her and Ke$ha (pronounced Keh-cash-ha), with Katy winning out after the formal chest-measuring. 5– The Suburbs, by Arcade Fire – An album that probably played to the Grammy committee’s ears like a Canadian (read: quieter, quirkier) version of Coldplay, which explicitly lyrically references the current year and is about an area that I would wager a solid 90-something percent of them grew up in. Next to the other albums, the Arcade Fire is a clear winner, even in the eyes of someone who hasn’t really ever heard of them before. Personally I have heard more of every other album than The Suburbs itself and I could tell you without feeling overreached or uninformed, that it is the best-produced, wellthought out and most relevant album. As for the Grammy committee, it’s not quite clear who they are, what their criteria for Best Album is, or if there is a deeper motivation to their voting beyond quality, I would venture a guess that they, separately and each in their own way, thought the album was pretty neat-o. And through this, managed to have the most talked-about Grammys in years.

Apr/May 2011 Stylus Magazine


Balanced Records Complex yet Simple


By Victoria King

14 Stylus Magazine Apr/May 2011

2011 marks the ten-year anniversary for Balanced Records, the Winnipeg-based mega-project. Starting off as an informal collective of local DJs as an outlet for just getting their stuff out there, Balanced now ranges from electronic to world, dubstep to R & B. Stylus enjoyed a great vegan lunch at Mondragon with manager Adam Hannibal and president Spencer Kuziw to talk about the past, the present and downloading. Stylus: Right off the bat, the ten-year is now. What was the goal when you started off? Adam Hannibal: Well, the ten-year mark is something we’re very proud of. Originally, we just wanted to put out music and we didn’t have any specific direction, just to release Winnipeg artists, promote parties and our own music. No one really had a background in the business side of music. Initially, the goal was just to get our music out there and see how it went. That was the first couple years. We only released local music. In the last five years we’ve broadened to reach a lot of artists from all over the world and from different genres. Now, we’re actively trying to get our music distributed and land as many deals as we can for our artists. Stylus: As far as competition in opposing markets, how do you guys see yourselves measuring up to major labels in Canada and internationally? AH: We’ve found a lot of partnerships with other labels that haven’t been so much competitive as much as ‘win-win’ situations. In electronic music there is a big remix culture, meaning that artists are getting together and collaborating to remix their music or vice versa. They might release some of our music and we’ll release some of theirs. It’s a healthy cooperative direction. Part of it might be that we are in Winnipeg and not necessarily in their ‘territory.’ Or, they might recognize that we are unique and so are they, so we may as well collaborate. Spencer Kuziw: Agreed. We’re still releasing physical media and a lot of people come to us be-

cause they want to be released that way. Five years ago, for example, there were a lot of labels that Adam and I worked with where we might think, “Wow, that’s a crazy label. I can’t believe we’re dealing with them.” Yet now, I think releasing vinyl has definitely elevated our stature for sure – for example, our 7” vinyl Juno record. Those are still near the top of vinyl just because that’s something we’re doing that a lot of people haven’t done. It has certainly elevated our stature. Stylus: Why choose to stay in Winnipeg rather than shipping out to Toronto or Vancouver? AH: We’ve always found a big advantage to being in Winnipeg because we stand out so much in the music scene. When we first got started, Toronto and Montreal were just so saturated that we probably wouldn’t get recognized as much. There are also creative advantages to living through our long winters and spending so much time in the studio. Our output is its own thing – it’s different from the kind of music you hear from those bigger cities. It keeps us unique culturally and musically. SK: Winnipeg definitely adds to our sound, even the sound of artists that are not from Winnipeg. Aside from playing more gigs, that would probably be the one thing that we might get in a larger city that we don’t get in Winnipeg in this era with the internet. Ten years ago, that was not the case – when we were just doing it because we were 20 years old or 19 years old and couldn’t afford to leave. There are cities that we love and there’s probably a chance that we could move eventually. But Winnipeg is our home, and that’s probably our sound. Stylus: What’s your opinion of downloading/ “music piracy” vs. going into an actual record store? AH: I think piracy can be kind of a bittersweet thing. There are advantages for us as a relatively small label. It can have some promotional legs that we might not have in terms of outreach. I think it is more so affecting big labels in a big way. I don’t think it’s hin-

dering us – its just spreading our artistry a bit. It’s just some extra promotion. I don’t think it’s a serious level where we have to worry about it. SK: We give away a lot of music anyways. AH: There are advantages to just giving away music. I do think the erosion of the “vinyl era” is unfortunate because there was a real culture of going into record stores and buying records all over the world that’s been lost. I think its harder to stumble on music the way you use to at least. But, for us we take a multi-pronged approach – we are doing vinyl, we’re doing digital and just trying to tap as many of those different areas as we can. SK: I guess the change for us is we’ve been able to let go of the CD which has been our mainstay for the first seven years of our business. With digital, you can do a two-song release and with vinyl you can do a two or four song release and that’s accepted. It has allowed us to be more prolific in that respect. I think that’s been a big thing for us with the digital revolution. Stylus: As far as a Winnipeg/Balanced sound goes, how would you describe it? AH: Our sounds are fairly complex ones. We promote ourselves as being a mixture of organic and electronic. We try to use a mixture of natural music sounds with more synthetic, technical, digital and urban sounds. Mood wise, it’s a mixture of chill with high-energy tension – we add a lot of tension. In the end it creates something pretty complex – something you may have to listen to a few times to wrap your head around. SK: We are a collective and we’ve got great variety. When we have our meetings, we all have our agendas yet we all steer the sound and I think that’s what gives us our sound. We have five guys who all, at least for the most part, agree on what we think is crap as well as things we love. We all bring something to the label. As far as a Winnipeg sound, I don’t think Balanced sounds anything like anything else in Winnipeg or a “Winnipeg Sound.”

Apr/May 2011 Stylus Magazine



Jonnies Sticky Buns Tunes for your Sweet Tooth By Taylor Burgess Jonnies Sticky Buns is the hippest new eatery in Winnipeg, with a rotation of funky original cinnamon buns ranging from the classic, to the carrot ginger, to the limited edition specials (like a Guinness bun for St. Patrick’s Day). And when you enter the little storefront on the north side of Portage, between Lipton and Ruby, you know there’s some creative juices flowing around there, with collaged-over benches, the Rachel Schappert mural on the wall, and old windows used as a chalkboard and a bulletin board. So it’s probably of little surprise that the two people behind the store (and behind the counter) are established Manitoban musicians. The two in question are Rheanna Melnick of Feed the Birds and Jon McPhail of Jon McPhail and his Family Band. They met a couple years back at open mic nights at Charlie O’s Lounge. “I remember sitting in there and Jon walked in,” Melnick recounts. “His friends all stood in front of me, because I was in the back. And he grabbed a candle from one of the tables and pretended to light one of his friends on fire.” “Really?” muses McPhail. “Are you sure that was me? That doesn’t sound like something I would do.” But it wasn’t until the next summer that they became more acquainted. They camped together at Folk Fest, and through mutual friends, they partook in breakfast, biking, and playing music by the river. It seems that fate had pulled the two together. One strange coincidence that they have discovered over their friendship: McPhail’s father, a United Church minister, married Melnick’s parents. “She brought in

016 Stylus 16 Stylus Magazine Magazine Apr/MayDecember/January 2011 2009

a photo,” says McPhail, “and I asked, ‘Did you Photoshop this?’” Another overlap is that the two play in family bands. Melnick has played with her brothers Ben and Dustin since she was young. They had helped out with her solo recordings, and they also play on Feed the Birds’ Catcher. Jon McPhail plays as Jon McPhail and his Family Band. That, however is just in name—he plays by himself. Previously, McPhail was a member of Valsuzie, who recorded an album. However, after the album, McPhail felt a looming pressure around it all. “We tried to play some shows with a new member, and the whole thing sorta exploded. I was the glue. I was the person who was supposed to keep everything going, and get all the gigs, and be the band leader. And I really felt exhausted by the whole thing.” So he took a year off from music, focused on his work, cooking, and managing a cafe. And after about eight months (and getting burnt out by all that) he ran off to his family’s cabin for a week and took recording equipment and every instrument he owns to record the album hummmm. “I love how a lot of the songs have a bit of a mellow vibe because I was alone in a room,” he said, “but when I get them on stage with a bunch of people we have so much fun and—” “It gets raucous,” says Melnick. “Yeah, the whole experience is just ridiculous fun,” says McPhail. Melnick, on the other hand, ended her previous solo recording project because she was sick of singing slow, sad songs, and is now the principle songwriter of Feed the Birds. Now she writes shorter, more up-

beat songs. “They’re kinda in a punk format, because I always wanted to be in a punk band,” laughs Melnick. On Catcher, the album that Feed the Birds released this past fall, she’s crafted nearly a dozen sweet catchy tunes, focused on farming, relationships, and nature. It’s a dreamy affair, all led by her acoustic guitar, vocals, and tambourine playing for a mostly bittersweet ride. “It’s really fun to play upbeat, rockin’ songs, as opposed to the slow ones, though they have their place,” she says. Years ago, that first summer when the two started to hang out, they played a few shows together that McPhail had organized. “And then we were going to go on tour. That worked terribly and ended spectacularly, with me sending an email entitled ‘Hey Asshole’ to one of the venues,” laughed McPhail, who said it was intended as a joke. “He replied very quickly. But not pleased. So that ended that tour.” “We had tour meetings, and we made breakfast,” says Melnick. “And after Thanksgiving, Jon came back and said, ‘Hey, how about this idea: do you want to try to open a cafe?’” And then two years later, it happened, to everyone’s delight. You can find out everything you need to know about the eatery at Feed the Birds can be found at, and Jon McPhail’s Family Band is at www.myspace. com/jonmcphailfamilyband.

Feb/Mar 2011 Stylus Magazine


Who Polices the Witchpolice? By Kent Davies

Witchpolice is a local music blog staring renaissance rapper Rob Crooks (Magnum K.I., Fucking Retards) and father of the year Sam Thompson (Mouthboat). As the dynamic duo known as Dynamo they created Witchpolice as a way to unleash their spaced-out hip hop to the world. “It was the only thing to do,” explained Thompson in a recent interview on CKUW 95.9 FM. “We weren’t playing shows at that point and we weren’t going to make any hard copies so we figured hey let’s just make a free blog and just put our music up there.” Now the site has become a one-stop shop full of free local music rarities, unreleased demos, basement bootlegs, psychedelic videos and more. Originally the blog only featured a few acts the two knew personally. Thompson explains, “Rob and I were in bands since we were kids and we knew a lot of people that played music of some kind or another.” Those musical friends including the Brat Attack, the punk band with the record for the most revolving door members, and teen ska sensation

Grandpa’s Army. Over time, the response to the site has gotten larger as has the site’s content. “More people know about it now – their friends started checking it out and so it goes,” says Crooks. “It just seemed if we’re doing this for our own music we might as well do it for others.” Although Witchpolice still features a majority of the staple acts Rob and Sam are involved in, many other acts are starting to submit their unreleased demos, bootleg shows and other content to the site. “We’ve been getting people submitting stuff to us that we don’t know personally which is cool,” says Thompson. The two are hoping the trend continues. “It’s not really about the recording quality. We want it if it’s something we think is cool or it sounds good or if we like what they’re doing.” Along with the promise of local acts submitting their buried treasured tunes to the site, the duo are working on posting new material from Dynamo. “Expect a cross between Kraftwerk and the Butthole Surfers,” says Crooks. The two also have plans to post past CKUW 95.9

FM live performances. Recently, Witchpolice posted a live recording of Canadian reggae band Friendlyness and the Human Rights. The act played the Albert as part of the last Winnipeg ska and reggae festival, which was originally broadcast on CKUW and UMFM and now posted to the blog. “I got it from the radio and have been listening to it straight since – I posted it because it’s one of my favorite acts in Canada,” explains Thompson. The site also features new videos from Shoshaku Jushaku, the new project from members of the legendary basement showmen the Mouthboat. The great thing about Witchpolice is not just that it features local music but how it features local music. Instead of posting polished samples of a local artists’ latest album it’s often ten year old unreleased demos of a local artists’ first punk band. In that regard, hopefully musicians everywhere will start looking for something that may not sound so sweet but is worth sharing anyway. Check it out and submit it out at

Apr/May 2011 Stylus Magazine



KEN mode From the Heart of St. Vital On By Marc Evans In case you have literally or figuratively been living under a rock, the name KEN mode has affectionately been hammered into your cerebral cavities. For a decade plus, this Winnipeg trio has been executing their wartime strategy with eerie precision. Gearing up for a relatively massive touring cycle in support of their fourth fulllength album, I sat down over a lovely cup of Lavazza with drum ogre Shane Matthewson. Stylus: Damn this coffee is great, good call. Can you sum up the timeline of the band for those not in the know? Shane Matthewson: Well, we formed in the heart of St. Vital in 1999. At the core we are two loser brothers [ Jesse on guitar/vocals] who refuse to quit because it’s all we know at t his point (and we love doing it, and all that good stuff ). Our first “studio” album was recorded in late 2001 but didn’t come out until 2003. Since 2002, we’ve been touring whenever our busy work and school schedules have permitted. We’ve been touring and putting on our own shows locally for a long time now, so I suppose people might say we’ve ‘paid our dues.’ I see it more as we just didn’t quit! [laughs] Our newest album Venerable, which comes out March 15, is our first with our new label Profound Lore Records. We’re really excited to be working with Profound Lore! Stylus: Speaking of Profound Lore, which happens to be one of my favorite labels right now, what sparked the change from Escape Artist, to your own label Arctodus Records, to now one of the hottest forward thinking aggressive labels? SM: Well, in 2008 when we completed our Mennonite album, we knew that Escape Artist Records was in the “wind down” stage of its life. Our agreement with Escape Artist was to do two records, which we finished with our Reprisal album in 2006, so we began the search for a new home. We ended up releasing Mennonite ourselves through Jesse’s label Arctodus Records, as we had booked a European tour for March 2008 and no other label would have been able to have the album ready for release in such a short period of time. With our new album Venerable, we really wanted to give it a solid push through marketing and touring. We knew to accomplish what we wanted to accomplish with the album, we would need the support of an established label. Profound Lore ended up being the best fit for what we wanted

to do. They do a great job promoting their artists, and are excellent at keeping the lines of keeping communication open and keeping us in the loop. Stylus: There is a new member in your ranks. G. Therese Lanz, who is taking over bass playing duties. Is she a permanent addition to the band, or is it just for the tour? SM: Well, as far as bass playing duties go, it looks like we will have a bit of a revolving lineup in the next little while. First and foremost we are looking accomplish all of our touring goals for this record. Therese will be accompanying us on our tours in March, April, May and June, but has other commitments with her own band [Mares of Thrace] at other points during the year. Chad Tremblay who played bass on Venerable will be doing some of the touring with us this year, as well as Jahmeel Russell [Kittens, Malefaction, Projektor, Red Vienna] who played bass on Mennonite. As far as who we will be writing and recording with going forward, that remains to be seen. Stylus: You and your brother are much more personally involved with KEN mode than most other musicians I have met. I know you’ve mentioned in the past that in most circumstances you feel that ‘DIY’ labels are often under educated on the business side of music. Can you elaborate on what you are doing differently? SM: Between my brother and I, we’ve graduated from 3 business schools, meaning compared to most other musicians we have a bit of a leg up so to speak. By no means does this mean that we’re treating our band like any other ‘business venture’ we could be involved in, as it is most definitely a labour of love for the both of us. If this band were an investment we would have turfed it a long time ago! [laughs] We do our best to use our collective education to help this band run as smoothly as possible, from budgeting, to filing our taxes in the most advantageous was possible for the band. We’re very involved in all aspects of running the band, so if you buy something from us through mail order, it was definitely us who stuffed the envelope! Stylus: Now, with the fourth KEN mode album, we have seen you guys step up to the upper echelon of the scene, if you can call it that. Who are some of the people involved in it’s creation, why are they important to you as a band? SM: [laughs] Well I’m not sure if we can claim to be in the upper echelon quite yet, but we’ve definitely been getting significantly more ‘push’ on this record. Working with Chris Bruni at Profound Lore Re-

cords has definitely helped get our name out there. Also, our album was recorded at God City Studios by Kurt Ballou [Converge], with artwork and layout by Julie Anne Mann and Josh Graham [Neurosis, Storm of Light, Red Sparrows, Battle of Mice]. Getting names like these attached to your record definitely helps in generating a bit of buzz. We’ve been big fans of Kurt, Julie Anne and Josh’s work for years now, so it’s great to have had worked with them! Stylus: I know it’s cliché to say this but the new record rips. What is different about this album compared to the back catalogue, which continues to win over new droves of KEN mode supporters? SM: The writing process for this album was similar to albums we’ve done in the past, the exception being our last album Mennonite, which was written and recorded in a relatively short period of time. I suppose the biggest change on this record was recording with Kurt, who has notoriously heavy production. The songs on Venerable are a little heavier than our last record, so having big production to back it really makes the songs pop! One track on the record [“Never Was”] has up to four bass tracks and eight guitar tracks at points! Stylus: This tour looks massive, with stops at SXSW for the Profound Lore showcase. How long are you gone for? Who are you looking to forward to seeing or performing with? SM: For this run, we’ll be out for about two months in the U.S. and Canada, then home for about three weeks before we go out for another month in the U.S. We’re definitely excited to get out and play this new material, see some old friends, and make a whole lot of new friends! None of us have ever played or even been to SXSW before, and have heard great things about it, so it will definitely be cool to check things out. As far as who we’re looking forward to playing with, this list is pretty long! It will definitely be good to play with our buddies in Sulaco, Vilipend, Castavete, Gaza, The Secret etc., Engineer, Black Breath, Fuck the Facts, and the list goes on. Stylus: Anything else you like to say before we go get some absolutely wonderful Thai food? SM: Thanks everyone for the support! Our tour dates and merch can be found at www.ken-mode. com. Our last show of this two month tour will be in Winnipeg at the Albert on Saturday May 7 with Fuck the Facts. It should be an awesome show and a great way to end that tour! Apr/May 2011 Stylus Magazine



Tiger Lillies Are Poisonous with Anastasia Chipelski and Courtney Slobogian Thursdays 6-8 a.m. on CKUW 95.9 FM or streaming online at

Stylus: So, first and foremost, how are you two so giddy so early in the morning? And then on top of that, how are you clear-minded enough to be clever? Ana Chipelski: Well, I’d say that we’re giddy from lack of sleep, for the most part. The cleverness is a result of an as-yet unexplained chemical reaction that occurs when the devastating awesomeness contained within one Courtney and one Anastasia is compressed into a small space.  It’s like the distillation of awesomeness.  Just joking (not really). We’re not that egotistical, but we do have a lot of fun together when we’re bantering off-air, and so we just turn the mics on and continue the process, but with less cussing. Courtney Slobogian: We would be lying if we didn’t mention the crucial component of putting on lipstick while on air studio as a major factor in the chemical process of the distillation of awesomeness.   Sometimes we also have a Black Sheep breakfast to look forward to, and that usually gets us through. As for the clear-minded piece, it’s all an illusion. It’s enjoyable to know you think we’re clever because we are usually pretty certain that the only people that find us funny, are us. Especially moments when we laugh hysterically at the wording of the weather report or we make up impromptu spoken word pieces. You can never be certain anyone else is enjoying that, you know? (But we really are.)  Stylus: Where does the name of the radio show come from? I feel like there’s quite a story behind it. AC: I would say that’s Courtney’s story...Courtney? CS: Your feelings are right. The story goes like this.  I had a cat, her name was Girl. Not because I intended to reinforce socially constructed  gender-binaries, but because it legitimately worked for her. It was just her name. OK? So then anyway, we lived happily ever after with her brother Harvey and then one day I was dating someone and they were sweet enough to bring me freshly picked tiger lilies from their garden. Actually, I’m assuming it was their garden; it could have

been from the house down my street for all I know. Anyway, it was sweet and I put them on my nightstand and innocently went to sleep. And then(prepare yourself for the tragic twist), at some point in the middle of that dark and ominous night (probably there was a full moon), Girl ATE THE TIGER LILIES. And then she died. Well, first she got really, really sick, and THEN she died. Because as it turns out, tiger lilies are poisonous. To cats. I didn’t know that then. I know it now. Stylus: Are there any running jokes, themes, or stories that you two revisit week after week? AC: Well, we love/hate the weather, and so we often get really REALLY dorky about that.  Dorkiness is also an ongoing theme. For us, it’s a term of endearment.  We’re quite fond of cats and critters in general.  Overall we tend to take our combined backgrounds in dorkitude and apply our social theories to pretty much anything that lands in our tired brains.  Last week, for example, we decided that we would write a book on feline queer theory which would explain why my cat is a dog, and which would question SCOTT TURNERthe behavioural patterns that indicate normative patterns of “catness” and “dogness”.  We also mentioned the wind speed and direction, so I think we successfully covered all of our themes! CS: Does the weather count as a joke? We really like talking about the weather. Our future goals for the show include one day having a real live meteorologist come on air. Ana ended up at some party where she met one, but nothing ever panned out. Your next question should be: Why was Ana at a party with meteorologists? I would have no answer for you. Stylus: How long have you had the show for, and what’s been its development over time? AC: Courtney started the years ago, and I joined in a little while after (many years minus a little bit?). We used to talk about cats a lot more, so I guess the show had more of an educational component that way.  We would share tips and tricks and advice on cat-raising, as many of the things we

learned to get through tough cat-times were passed along through word-of-mouth. But some days we just weren’t in the mood for talking about cats, so we opened it up a bit. The cats are still there though! CS: Yes, many years. Many, many years. With Girl as my inspiration, it’s true that the show used to have more of a cat focus. The only reason for the decline in cat information is basically because we realized that there were a lot of other really weird and dorky things we like to talk about. Including the definition of dorky (according to the online dictionary #thatsnotreal). On a more serious note, I think we also really like to find a way to engage with our politics, without needing to have an explicitly political show. I started off doing Say it Sista and had a lot of fun with that. We have grappled with shifting our focus to be more explicitly political. But the thing is, we have our politics, they are part of who we are, and so in turn, they are a part of every weird and dorky conversation we have. And I kinda like it that way.  Stylus: When you’re on air, who do you picture that you’re talking to? Or are you just talking to each other, taking along any listener for the wild ride? AC: I’d say we’re mostly talking to each other.  When I think of someone tuning in to our show, I usually imagine that they’re drinking coffee or eating breakfast because at that time of day I’m pretty fixated on coffee and breakfast.  Giving in to that fixation is dangerous and leads to very coffee-centric conversation, so I talk to Courtney about cats and weather instead.  But we do invite people to call in, and it’s always awesome when they do!  Then I get my coffee and all is well. CS: My cat. Obviously. (Sorry, Ana.)

Apr/May 2011 Stylus Magazine


Mental Notes

PAC DIV Mania In Mania, the California trio come together once again to produce another summertime soundtrack. Opening strong with “The Mirror”, the three emcees trade introspective verses, “I like to get high but its great to be sober / Yesterday was hard but it made me a soldier,” over a joyful string section sample before jumping into a plethora of songs with their distinctive blend of braggadocio and playful misogyny. Like, Big Mibbs, and Be Young switch up the mood for a bit with “Nobody’s Perfect,” reminding us to keep our head up over an irresistible piano-laced backdrop and soothing female chorus. After that, its back to regular business for a while as the trio rips apart Lords of the Underground’s “Chief Rocka” instrumental before going in on the minimalist “Your Fucking Song.” “Saved” brings the mood back to uplifting with its bouncy piano and a chorus that hearkens back to their Church League Champions days, “Man I just got paid / Put your hands in the sky like you just got saved.” Mania mixes the playful sound Pacific Division is known for with a few tracks with a distinctive West Coast Bay Area bounce that adds a welcome freshness to their repertoire. Their album, Grown Kid Syndrome, may not have a release date just yet, but Mania should hold you down for the Summer. (2 Dope Boys, RB Beniza

THE MONEY MAKING JAM BOYS The Prestige: Jam Boy Magic Known, (and perhaps feared), as The Money Mak-

22 Stylus Magazine Apr/May 2011

ing Jam Boys, their first mixtape, The Antidote, quietly slipped below the radars of most hip hop fans. This time around, Black Thought and his crew of Philly All-Stars including Dice Raw, Truck North, and P.O.R.N., alongside newest member, Atlanta native Sugar Tongue Slim, team up with streetwear brand 10.Deep to release The Prestige: Jam Boy Magic; the result is an 18 track whirlwind of multiple flows over a smorgasbord of beats. The mixtape itself moves at a furious pace, separated only by intermittent shout outs by the rapping individuals, who each have rhyme styles and cadences varied enough for listeners to easily differentiate between when the debates of “who killed what” start to form. That said, these debates are sure to be heated as none of the five emcees slack on any of their performances. These are pure-bred lyricists; they’re less concerned with coming up with the best punchlines or overarching statements than they are with finding the perfect harmony between words and beats. However, none of their lyrics come across as overly-preachy or “underground,” which is what I feel is wrong with Slaughterhouse, another rap supergroup. There is no deep, underlying message here; there is no movement to be pushed, and there is no hype to be built. This is hip hop in its most technical form; this is nerd rap without the nerds. (10.Deep, RB Beniza

PIGEON HOLE Age Like Astronauts Released in June of 2010, Age Like Astronauts has been a great success – gunning its way up to #1 across the US college charts as well as a successful debut on the iTunes hip-hop charts. Citing “Canadian psych samples, ’60s lounge-pop LPs, baby drum kits, and homemade cassette tape synths,” the scope and diversity in this album is really evident in the lo-fi beats and smart rhymes that come from this deadly duo. Dusty Melo and Marmalade of Canadian hip-hop collective Sweatshop Union make up Pigeon Hole and are joined on Age Like Astronauts by fellow S.U. members Mos Eisley and Itchy Ron, as well as fellow Canadians Moka Only

and D-Sisive. The album has a really cool flow to it, bashing old girlfriends in “You Suck” and reminiscing about the “old neighborhood” in the narrative “Down the Block.” Having released their first music video for the fourth track off the album, “Light Show” with D-Sisive, I would caution to look beyond this track. The rest of the album is much better and while the song is decent, “Sea Tales,” “Jercules” or “Bonfire” are better examples of what this group is actually capable of. (Urbnet Records, www. Victoria King

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FLYING FOX AND THE HUNTER GATHERERS Hans My Lion Don’t get me wrong: There is a distinct lack of hose and medieval gallivanting on this album, but nevertheless, what Flying Fox and the Hunter Gatherers’

first full-length album immediately brings to mind is a dark and obscure folk tale with origins somewhere in the 10th century. What does this sound like? Dark and jazzy, salacious and circusy, ravenously passionate pop. The classically trained sextet behind this sound commands instruments such as glockenspiel, guitar, accordion, keyboard, cymbals, violin, trumpet, and saxophone that burst into musical richness inside your brain. Lead vocalist Jesse Krause’s elastic voice growls low and rough at times, but in the next second swoops quivering up the scales. The poetic lyrics are a joy to read. “Nurse” is lewd, dark, and juicy, and contains one of the best moments on the record – a rare moment free of instruments that’s like suddenly be-

ing alone in a room with Jekyll who transforms into grinning Hyde. Here, Krause sounds lasciviously desperate and menacingly violent before breaking into full-blown mania. This album is busy – a massive understatement – and it’s sometimes hard to tell where songs begin and end. Listening to this will make you want to run out of your apartment to dance in a fire with woodland animals, caring only about the moment.That’s the spirit of Hans my Lion, and he lives whenever you do. (Head in the Sand, Adrienne Yeung WHITE DOG Harvestman I bought a handful of Prairie Fire Tapes and CDs from Chris Jacques,

a.k.a. White Dog, and they get the most play when I go for high-speed late-night dumpster runs with my roommates. I am in a trance – they are scared shitless. This disc sounds like airplanes eternally taking off, and then avalanches of static, and embryos trying to escape the womb underneath all the action. Considering that Harvestman was all done with contact mics, a Casio SK-1, and field recordings, the mind goes hundreds of times as far. White Dog hits a headspace and exploits his technology, to touch on variations of that mood, all with total mastery. Hook it up, smash it, scrunch it, then make it sound good. (Prairie Fire Tapes, Taylor Burgess


GARY WAR Police Water EP Slip on your headphones, my dears, sit tight... and now we enter hyperspace. The journey starts out with the sound of liquid swooshy happy heartbeats on “Born of Light.” Laser guns enter, blazing the way for the galaxy, decked out in its best ’80s night outfit, to strut its stuff against a background of singing. I have no idea

what the echoing lyrics are going on about, but this isn’t so bad – War’s voice is just one of what seems like hundreds of effects and experiments, and as a whole, Police Water comes off as dizzyingly instrumental. “On Its Head” again features indecipherable urgent whispering amid a whirling, colourful soundscape built with lashing drums and rapidly squiggling synth. We don’t see any melodies, just a stream of the same glittering ether leaking out into formless forms, layered over at the end of the track with cacophonous chords, what sounds like a plane taking off, and dashes of microphone feedback. As we approach the centre of the EP, things start getting a lot more dancey with a great squeaky interlude on “Grounds for Termination.” And then there’s the heavy, repetitive, exhilarating “Sirens.” This is where our voyage ends if you own the vinyl, but the CD of-

fers two bonus tracks, both of which are, as always, hypnotic, high-energy, and much more accessible than you’d ever imagined from the start. (Sacred Bones Records, Adrienne Yeung

anna Barwick is her name but a choir of wordless voices is her music. Well, it has been, anyways. On her EP Florine, the Brooklyn-based performer made a distinct sound for herself by looping her vocals with lots of reverb. With a select few instruments on The Magic Place, her first for Asthmatic Kitty, Barwick has made nine songs that are multi-layered loops of pure bliss—echoes of choirs for contemplating the church of the Self. A language constructed is simply destructive. Barwick is true to what sounds right. With her voice, and without her words, it’s impossible to misinterpret her intentions, and what she sends out into the world. Pure, pure, pure. (Asthmatic Kitty, Taylor Burgess

JULIANNA BARWICK The Magic Place Abandon all sense of normalcy: Juli-

Apr/May 2011 Stylus Magazine


Root Cellar

LIA ICES Grown Unknown Brooklyn’s Lia Ices is moving up in the world. Since she released her first album Necima in 2008 on relatively unknown label Rare Book Room, she’s been signed to Jagjaguwar and even coaxed indie’s hottest sensitive cabindweller, Justin Vernon, onto her album. So what’s all this, then? Who is Lia Ices and why should I care? Well, the short of the who is easy enough. She’s that sorta-weird singer-songwriter lady. You know the one, Kate Bush birthed her in the late eighties and she’s floated around since under various forms and aliases. Lia Ices is a pseudonym, and I suspect this might be that offspring’s latest incarnation. Mz. Ices certainly can’t be faulted for lack of trying – Grown Unknown is intricately crafted, and quite pleasant to listen to. She incorporates all sorts of instruments and styles, often in the same song, while always remaining in the comfortable singer-songwriter suit. The album plods along, and you might occasionally nod your head, or find yourself impressed at the unexpected stylistic flourishes, but it’s rarely enough to compel you into investing yourself in the album. In fact, it wasn’t until the eponymous fifth track that I was truly drawn in. It seems like she found some extra creative spark halfway through the album, and she fortunately runs with it. The creativity peaks with “Grown Unknown” and continues for the rest of the album, but tapers with each passing track. When she can muster enough of this energy to sustain an entire album, it might be a classic, but for now, all she’s mustered is an occasionally intriguing but generally sort of boring effort. ( Jagjaguwar, David Nowacki THE GOOD LOVELIES Let the Rain Fall

On the bright side, Let the Rain Fall is an album that both my grandmother and I can enjoy together, without compromising taste for talent. On the downside, my grandmother is 82. In my mind, this album is comparable to watermelon – sweet, pretty and a non-offensive favorite . Yet also pretty boring. The Good Lovelies are a trifecta of sugar ’n’ spice gals, with harmonies to melt your ears and cute pop-folk tunes for any day in May to August. Despite (what I think is) an attempt to be “edgy” (?) in their cover of K-Os’ “Crabbucket,” this album is as wholesome as a bran muffin. On the other hand, I can’t find any filler tracks here. The ladies don’t mess around – if it’s on the track list, it’s meant to be there. Each contributes to the collective tone of the album. The Good Lovelies show a real strength in their ballads – check out “Best I Know,” “Home” and “Everything I Know” to see what I mean. (PS – Sorry for the food analogies.) (Six Shooter Records, Victoria King

AUTUMN DEFENSE Once Around They better have a defense for the other three seasons. The Autumn Defense’s is the fourth album from Wilco members John Stirratt and Pat Sansone, which makes them a side project of the famous indie band. All I have to say is, why not stick with playing in Wilco and leave side projects for musicians who actually have something interesting to contribute to the music community? At times, Once Around sounds like it’s trying to emulate sixties pop/rock. The result is stale, ignorable, commercial pop music that one mocks when it frequently appears as background music in the latest formulaic romantic comedy. I will say that this is NOT

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the worst music I’ve ever heard. The title track starts out with Wilco’s signature picking on acoustic guitar and the drums focused on tom, bass and hi-hat. However, the song’s uninspired lyrics: “You are my only one / When it’s said and done / My heart beats one by one” and bland pop vocal styling are the ultimate downfall of this album. (Yep Roc, www.yeproc. com) Kyra Leib BEN + VESPER Honors Ben + Vesper are a husband and wife duo whose back-and-forth, conversationalist style make their second album an eccentric listen. Their warm and soothing voices dance in fluttering harmonies through tales of mundane situations (e.g. phone conversations), making them into songs that are intriguing and charming and pleasant to listen to. They’re also fanciful and odd: “Find your friend” advises, “if a bird of prey were ever to land on your head, don’t freak out. / It will swarm, but you must take the pain.” At times

the guitar, violin, piano, banjo, and synth will make you jump into the blissful worship of a fireball without really knowing why. However, this ungrounded quirkiness is also a problem: the musical structure is almost as stream-of-consciousness as the lyrics, strange chords appear spontaneously, and piano is sprinkled in random places. There’s no home base, structure, hooks, or repetition in most of these folky pop songs. The result is that their staying power is fleeting, like an interesting perfume sample. These songs are sprayed on a tester strip and waved in front of your nose, and for a moment they overwhelm you and take you to a place you’ve never been. You’re mildly intrigued by the offbeat notes of dandelion, honeycomb, poppyseed, and clover, but ultimately, even if you wear some on all of your pulse points, Honors fades away after half an hour, never becomes part of your identity, and so you move on. (Sounds Familyre, Adrienne Yeung

Jukebot VARIOUS ARTISTS Le Pop 6 Le Pop 6 is one in a series of French pop music compilations released by Groove Attack records. As with most compilations, I found myself enjoying some tracks much more than others. When I heard the first song “La Vie Cajun” I admired the blend of hip hop and Cajun folk music. By the time

that I got to the third track however, I started hearing an underlying pattern. These songs were too polished, too charming. For those of you who are saying, “Why is that such a bad thing? You’re just being too picky,” allow me to elaborate. I must admit that I am a stickler for foreign language lyrics. When I hear a standard pop song in English that I dislike, was that same

band to be singing in French I would love it. Le Pop 6 is a perfectly standard pop music compilation and although the idea of blending Cajun and hip hop music is very interesting, I felt like the artists were holding back, that they were trying to conform with an easy listening brand of pop. (Groove Attack, Kyra Leib

Tickle Trunk DEATH Spiritual Mental Physical A few years ago, Drag City released an album’sworth of killer material by a ferocious punk rock band from Detroit from the ’70s that no one’s heard of. That band was Death, three brothers who got together to play funk and soul, saw an Alice Cooper show, and went headlong into the garage. That first one collected their single and some other tracks, and this companion piece of sorts collects the rest. The 10 tracks on this comp cover the “reel-to-reel” demos the guys recorded in the middle of the decade. “Views” starts off in full “1-2-3-4!!” mode, punk fury with vocals that alternate between Malcolm Mooney like stabs and Gino Washington falsetto. It sounds like the Damned and the like, thrashing away at power chords, pounding out a beat with every instrument. The stomper “Masks” will put a smile on your face after your brain take those few seconds to realize why you “know this song from somewhere.” They totally nicked the melody from the Beatles’ “Got To Get You Into My Life” and muscled it into a corner. Taking a quick turn into quasi-hypnogogia with “The Change,” an instrumental, two-guitar duet changes the mood completely and turns the woolly-rock into something of a psychedelic jam. The three tracks at the end aren’t so much songs, as they are each member noodling around on their instrument. Great noodling, but not really songs (although “David’s Dream” sounds a lot like “The Change”). My vote for the best song on the album though, is “Can You Give Me A Thrill???”, a leather jacket-wearing, jean-knee ripping, sneering, spittle on the audience slice of everything that is Detroit rock ’n’ roll. How these brothers went unnoticed, and almost undocumented, boggles my brain. But with this CD (along with “...For The Whole World To See”), you’ve found that chapter that’s been ripped outta the history books. Listen and learn. (Drag City, Patrick Michalishyn

THE STOOGES Have Some Fun: Live At Ungano’s The latest Rhino/Stooges release is a “remastered” bootleg Funhouse-era show. This set at Ungano’s (a little dive that held, maybe, 200?) had Iggy Stooge sounding as rabid as he ever does with the band’s in fine, thick-and-chugging form. The five-piece Stooges pretty much run through Funhouse front to back, switching the order of “Loose” and “Down On The Street,” and dropping “L.A. Blues” for a new one, “Have Some Fun/My Dream Is Dead.” “Loose” kicks off the show and kills. It’s manic, the perfect warm-up for the Iggster. It gets faster ’n’ better, faster ’n’ better, and then ‘Dirt’... that saxophone kicks in and the train goes off the rails!! The girl next to the tape recorder comments about the show, “This is insane!” Of the two “new” songs, “Have Some Fun” is a rave up. Total rock ’n’ roll tornado! “My Dream Is Dead” is more the saxy, drum-bashingly wanky excersize in baiting an audience as you can get. I’m sure even Iggy left the stage (he’s nowhere to be heard). It was a killer f ’n show!! Packaging and liners: Rhino Handmade releases are usually known for putting together a great package. Everything comes in a nice, solid cardboard box with Iggy flippin’ the doublebird to the crowd. Inside, the CD comes in a miniprinted sleeve, there are a couple photos, and a nice long foldout booklet written by Lenny Kaye, giving you all you need to know about that night. Amazing set, lotsa lovin’ care went into it! Oh, the recording sounds like shit. What do you expect from a tape recorder on a table bootleg? There are tape bends, audio glitches, sound fades and people talking over the music. Imperfections a-plenty. Who cares right? Us Stooges fans ain’t snobs. (Rhino Handmade, Patrick Michalishyn

MAJOR ORGAN AND THE ADDING MACHINE Major Organ and the Adding Machine This Major Organ album is quite possibly the most confusing and alienating record born from the great womb of the Elephant 6. Suspected fathers from bands Neutral Milk Hotel, Of Montreal, Apples In Stereo and Olivia Tremor Control came together and... made... this! It’s definitely a pop-album, one slathered in sounds reminiscent of the “Combinations” from OTC’s album Black Foliage; spliced-up tape pieces, pastiches of perverted pop, “non-music” to some (or perhaps to most). Those who dislike the weirdness of OTC’s splintered weirdo songs or NMH’s bent carnival music would best ignore this; you won’t find what you want here. Here are a lot of songs, many ideas of songs, buried under electronic gauze and hazy shards of broken sounds. Anything that makes a noise is an instrument. It’s very strange and it’s very, very beautiful. This reissue tacks on 8 bonus tracks, including the Christmas compilation contribution, a cover of “What A Wonderful World” (pretty tough to muck this one up) and a DVD of the same name. It’s a short film starring E6 luminaries, weird costumes, homemade creations and two cute kids plunked down in one of the weirdest situations committed to video. Both the album and movie are whimsical and childlike, expression without fear of rejection. That kind of innocent experimentation yields a bushel of aural happiness. And it’s a great bonus for the CD-buying consumer. There’s a lot of gold that there well, you just gotta go deep ’n’ dig. (Orange Twin, Patrick Michalishyn

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Under The Needle TIMMY’S ORGANISM Rise of the Green Gorilla Okay, before we get on with listening to this album, let’s do a pre-boarding check: Do you like glammy garage rock? Good, good. Do you have your bong? Essential. Absolutely essential. The album’s called Rise of the Green Gorilla, for funk’s sake. Timmy’s Organism is Timmy Vulgar (I’m not sure that’s his real name), former frontman for some other bands you probably haven’t heard of (Human Eye, Clone Defects), and I certainly hadn’t heard of. However, after taking in Timmy’s Organism and witnessing (WITH MY EARS) the Rise of the Green Gorilla, I sure as shut am going to. This album is epic. It’s loud, scuzzy, noisy, lo-fi, overblown, and otherwise plain old shitty sounding, which makes it all the more impressive that I want to listen to it over and over. It really stands as a testament to an album when they do all they can to make the sound ugly and unpalatable and you’re still croaking and wailing along to the songs and generally causing everyone around you incredible distress. Stylistically, it’s like a magical collaboration that I wish had actually happened – if Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band had been sneakily replaced with T. Rex’s band and they recorded all their demos on a shitty 4-track in someone’s basement. Excellent glam stomp filtered though Beefheart’s raspy, acid-stained psychedelia, while aurally bringing to mind the resin-stained tape recordings of lo-fi paterfamiliases Sebadoh. Timmy takes elements that in the hands of a lesser artist would make this album completely unlistenable, such as ridiculous vocal effects (most tracks, most notably “Give It To Me Babe”) or just plain raunchy guitar noise (every track, but notably “Oafeus Clods”), and even downkey instrumental synth jams (“Building the FriendShip”), but makes it work. The music is so trashy-sounding you almost feel wrong enjoying it so much – like getting hot ’n’ bothered staring at an Aphrodite made of garbage. But damn, it’s so right. (Sacred Bones, David Nowacki

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YUCK Yuck Yuck is the self-titled second release of the British indie rock band. When I first started listening to this album I silently compared what I heard to the indie rock legend Pavement. Very high praise indeed. The album has some quality of pace or vocal style that I couldn’t quite lay my finger on. Not to say that I think this band has achieved the same level of genius as Pavement, yet they approach it on the last couple tracks. At times Yuck employs a wall of sound, and rough sounding guitars. On tracks like “Sunday” the guitar comes out more clear and melodically focused. Not surprisingly I found myself much preferring “Stutter” or “Holing Out,” the songs that showcase the grungy sounding electric guitar and tinny-far-away vocals. Still, Yuck maintains a very accessible rock sensibility throughout most of the album. My favourite track by far is “Rubber,” which is a full on shoegazing trip, with downplayed melodic vocals and the electric guitar a mess of noisy trebly awesomeness. This track is a slower pace but it feels like a solid insurmountable rock anthem, with the drums picking up at the end crashing symbols and snare. (Fat Possum, Kyra Leib ADMIRAL RADLEY I Heart California Aaron Espinoza and Ariana Murray (of Earlimart) together with Jason Lytle and Aaron Burtch (Grandaddy) have got together under the moniker Admiral Radley. It’s hard not to feel sunny when Admiral Radley proclaims their love in phrases like “I’m citrus in summertime / You’re haggis and cider,” on the title track, but it’s just as hard not to feel the awkwardness of the oddly placed, whispered

‘yeah’s. This is how it goes for the rest of the album: What are decent guitar-driven pop/rock songs full of solid drums and clear piano are often gussied up with unwarranted effects or too much care to be completely effective or even memorable. The good points: “Sunburn Kids” is a sunny, head-bopping track; “Lonesome Co.” and “Ghost of Syllables” have good composition backed with pleasant instruments passing by in the background; and Murray’s voice stands out on the very pretty “The Thread,” which sounds like the actual music that ballerina on your sister’s music box dancer dances to. It’s gentle, paced, pianobased, and tells a story of two young people thinking about growing old side by side. On the next few tracks things speed up again – or at least they sound like they do, until a minute in, when you realise things are going to stay at the same emotional level for a while. There are great guitars and stirring bass, but there’s no musical revelation, no emotional current in the wires. “I’m All Fucked on Beer” is an obnoxious and fuzzy 4 minutes of frat-house noise and gratuitous nasal vocals. I Heart California has some great moments, but Admiral Radley makes it too easy to feel indifferent about the vast majority of the record. (The Ship, Adrienne Yeung

RINGO DEATHSTARR Colour Trip Austin’s Ringo Deathstarr has it tough. Before opening the case, I had already judged the bejeezus out of them. What a stupid name. What a stupid, stupid name. First hint to them: get a different name. Second hint: keep doing everything else the

same. Any band that manages to essentially replicate My Bloody Valentine’s sound without sounding trite has me listening intently. It’s pretty common knowledge now because of the good old interwebs how Kevin Shields managed his groundbreaking guitar effects that propelled his band to eternal alt-music stardom (that’s what they called indie music back then, kids), and Ringo Deathstarr’s guitarist Elliott Frazier has spent his time tweaking knobs and placing speakers and whatever else you have to do to get that sought-after sound. The guitars sound exactly- exactly- like Loveless-era MBV. So do the drums and female vocals. Does this make the band as good or as groundbreaking as My Bloody Valentine? Good lord, no. No no no, no, an emphatic no. Lemme rephrase: NUP. I hate to make this review a straight side-by-side comparison to MBV, but Deathstarr’s asking for it. Look at what they’re playing! They want it. They want everybody talking about them to be forced to, even in passing, reference MBV. Even if you’ve never heard of My Bloody Valentine, somehow those words will escape past your lips if you’re talking about Ringo Deathstarr. So, here you go Ringos. You versus one of the best, most groundbreakingest groups of the last 30 years. Ahem. So, where MBV used their guitars in a nuanced, sophisticated way to create atmosphere, tension, rhythm and melody all in one, you, harnessers of this awesome power, have bent it to your own hipster-happy devices. You’ve used it to make poppy jams about getting really high and ex-girlfriends stealing your cardigans (“I’m So High,” “Imagine Hearts,” respectively, if you couldn’t figure that one). That being said, I still don’t know what the hell MBV were singing about. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t about getting high, even though Kevin Shields has been higher than your hipster brains could handle, for the last 15 years. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it. Don’t spill any on your cardigan though – such a disaster would probably spawn at least another EP’s worth of material. This just makes me want to listen to Loveless and scowl at this album. Wait, why am I putting it back in the CD player?

Why has “I’m So High” been stuck in my head for the past week? Oh, goddamnit. (Club AC360, http:// David Nowacki

OBITS Moody, Standard, and Poor The second Obits CD has absolutely killer packaging done up in the colours of bottled acrylic paint, with the sleekness of thick, pristine graphic novels. I don’t think anything could more predictive of how the music sounds. Guitars and drums lash out a web of dense and muscular garage rock that takes you cleanly and boldly out of your head. The members aren’t new to the music scene: there’s Rick Froberg of Hot Snakes and Pitchfork, guitarist Sohrab Habibion of Edsel, bassist Greg Simpson, and drummer Scott Gursky of Shortstack. All songs are timed to get just the right amount of suspense and perfect finish, as on “Standards,” which slows down like a marathon runner majestically breaking through the ribbon. Obits know they’re good, and they’re not afraid to proclaim it in the thickest musical equivalent of black Sharpie they can find. “Naked to the World” is purely joyful yawling. Froberg’s vocals “I Want Results” has a great, rolling, rumbling bassline, and hell, I don’t even know what kind of results I want after listening to this, but I sure know I want them. “Shift Operator” is slow and sparse compared to the other tracks (but by no means would you call this ‘slow’ out of context), which doesn’t work too well with the record as a whole. “New August” has a turgid undercurrent of wickedness, a touch of devious guitar riffing darkness. This is an exciting listen that’ll get you pumped up and ready for a comicbook-worthy adventure. (Sub Pop, Adrienne Yeung SIC ALPS Napa Asylum Finally, new Sic Alps! It’s been a few years since the fantastic US E.Z. came out. Waiting sucked a big one, but the band’s delivered with a disc-

full of brand new, sun-kissed, reverbhissed, noise-damaged poppy psychy rock. I had fun trying to sing along to fast-favourites without consulting the lyrics sheet. “Eat Happy” chugs along, hugs along to one chord of an eventual three-chord kicker that hooks you in then... just stops. Bastards! (I was singing along “Beep beep beep...” to what was actually “Eat eat eat... eat happy.”) Then you’ve got songs like “Trip Train” and the wonderfully titled “Wasted At Church” that build on a fuzzed-out loop and noisy blasts of distortion that look back on the sound of their early tapes. About half of the songs on this disc don’t break the “perfect pop song” length (2:42, duh). “Ball of Fame” and “Saint Peter Writes His Book” combined don’t even come close, but throw enough earworms out that anyone listening will hit <back> as the last note decays out the speakercone. And what about the gauzy, Archies-jangle of “Cement Surfboards?” Or the twilight blues of “Nathan Livingston Maddox?” Or maybe the fury of the MC5-like garage stomper “The First White Man To Touch California Soil?” There’s so much awesome packed into this package that it’s impossible to pick a “best.” So, person of discerning musical taste; remember when you digested GBV’s Alien Lanes? The noise, the variety, the hooks, the “Hey, I wanna try that!” feeling? Well here, feel it again. You’re welcome. (Drag City, www. Patrick Michalishyn

strong in 2008 and here’s to more success with there first full length Everyone I Ever Met. Cheers! (Counter Records, Nicholas Van Doeselaar MOTHER MOTHER Eureka I’ve travelled to B.C. a couple of times, and it’s always been a pleasant experience, but I must’ve been missing something. It seems to be home to some of the happiest bands on the planet. Birthplace of power-happy power-poppers the New Pornographers, and now ultra-smilers Mother Mother. And it’s a very specific brand of happy. If you’ve heard the New Pornographers before, you have a pretty good idea of what Mother Mother sounds like. Synth-tinged power-pop jams that pretty much necessitate moving your hips or torso in a silly fashion. One of the catchier tunes on the album, “My Baby Don’t Dance,” is a bit of a paradox, because any Baby not dancing would simply need to listen their eponymous song. It’s like a logic loop. Don’t think too hard about it. Mother Mother seem to thrive on dance-worthy beats, because when it’s time to make serious-face serious mu-

sic, such as “Simply Simple,” they seem to falter a little bit. The slower jams seem to stretch, but are mercifully few and far between. They’re not terrible, but after the first half of the album, their cliched melancholy is a bit of a bringdown, and not in the way they were intending. It’s just plain old boring music bringdown. So don’t let the New Pornographers references lull you into thinking this is a successor to Mass Romantic. Mother Mother still has some practice to get in at balance and consistency. Still, despite the old second-half blues, this new Mother Mother joint is a hand-clappin’, kneeslappin’, toe-tappin’, happy-happenin’ good time. Just turn it off after “Born in a Flash.” (Last Gang Records, David Nowacki FIGURINES Figurines I don’t know if I have ever heard an album with so many catchy choruses. Right after turning it on, I instantly started humming along. This three piece band from Denmark has really left a positive mark on my list of favorite bands with there fourth self titled album Figurines. If you enjoyed the

SPOKES Everyone I Ever Met If Arcade fire, Coldplay, Bombay Bicycle Club, and Sigur Ros had a baby, Spokes would be the result. As indie rock bands go, Spokes are nothing new to the scene, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t amazing. This northern UK band has sculpted an album that can really improve your indie rock collection. During the album, one starts to really feel the range of emotions that are being sung and played. Spokes have really succeeded strongly through them all; a mellow and soft piano song “Canon Grant;” a climactic and wonderful follow through with “Peace Rocket;” a relaxed acoustic feel with “Sun It Never Comes;” and a fun mashing revelry in “Torn Up In Praise.” Getting to the core of a song can take time on this album. Spokes are really into creating an atmosphere before going into their songs by having semi-long climactic intros for most. Luckily making the way to the core never disappoints. Spokes’ first EP People Like People Like You got their spokes rolling

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latest album from MGMT, you will certainly enjoy this album – the lead vocalist for Figurines shares a similar voice as Ben Goldwasser. This similar sound is strongly felt in the songs “Every Week” and “Lucky to love” along with many more on the 11 song album. However, if you didn’t enjoy the latest MGMT album, don’t go running away. This indie rock band also created their own very unique vibrant sound. These Danish men have really created an amazingly catchy album that sounds so simple – but if you listen closely enough you will hear the complexity they created in the album’s atmosphere with background keyboard, and harmonizing vocals. Figurines have really succeeded in making a great album and if you’re not humming or singing along by the end, then something is wrong with you. (Control Group, www.controlgroupco. com) Nicholas Van Doeselaar

because their music is just so fucked up and confusing, but after a second round, I started to understand the craziness this album beheld. The first song gives a large tribal feel with the beginning beat, but then you are thrown off track with strange tribal vocals, but then in relief, there is a synth playing beautiful chords in the background. But do I like it? That was the question I had to ask myself again and again. I guess it’s safe to say that PSY has made their own unique sound containing rebellious punk, tribal, rock, and alt techno with some selection of French vocals here and there. I had to admit, one song, “Decadense” was stuck in my head for some time. If you’re into really intense music that’s full of life and confusion, Paris Suit Yourself ’s My Main Shitstain could be something to look into. (Big Dada Nicholas Van Doeselaar

PARIS SUIT YOURSELF My Main Shitstain Well honestly, the title says most of it. This album is a pretty large shit stain, but cleans itself up quite nicely. It is one of those albums that when seen in a record store, you can’t even think of ever taking it seriously after reading their name and ever buying it. Even the cover is boring, but slightly cool! My first listen, I could not put my finger on how to classify this band,

SEAN ROWE Magic Sometimes Sean Rowe’s baritone sounds straight out of a deep black cave where time turns feeble cheese into Roquefort... and sometimes it sounds like his vocal cords are snuggled comfortably in his sinuses. Magic’s sound has hints of Leonard Cohen, Bruce Springsteen, and Johnny Cash, but these influences combine into a disappointingly shal-

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low product despite the heavy subject matter. This record is extremely lyricdriven, which wouldn’t be so much of a bad thing if the lyrics weren’t quite so cliched. Singing about car crashes and the state of the world is perfectly legitimate, but doing so with repeated references to the innocence of children, the Bible, and empty bottles of wine does this album a disservice. “Wet,” a song about a boy watching his mother take abuse, (“And if he hits you again / I will be your man / I will put him out”) has potential with honest-sounding, impassioned crescendos, even if these only come after two contrived-sounding stanzas. “Old Black Dodge” takes a turn for the better, though, when chocolate pours out of Rowe’s throat over a minimalist guitar and shows off his range. “Wrong Side of the Bed” casts a ton of hooks with a faster, funkier, almost Black Keys-esque sound. The majority of this album, however, forgoes this energy for slow and brooding minimalist guitars playing in the corner. This record sounds destined to be listened to after a shitty day at work in an unlit kitchen, or at karaoke night with the bottom of a bottle for a mic. Much more lyrical subtley, and less reliance on vocals to carry this album through, would make Rowe’s efforts amount to real magic. (Anti, www. Adrienne Yeung

ASTRAL Excerpts From Down the Rabbit Hole EP San Francisco’s four-piece Astral stare at their shoes. I mean, they really get into those suckers. Notice the differences between the two, inter-compare them, make sure their laces are nice and flat. They aggressively eye their footwear, is what I’m saying. Like those nice Irish lads, the Bloody Valentinos. At least that’s what their sell sheet and almost every review would have you believe. But, truth be told, Astral cribs from pretty much every shoegaze band that has ever been popular (as popular as those bands get), notably the aforementioned Blimey Valentines, but also quite directly from marginally lesser-known acts such as Ride, such as on opening track “Walk and Talk,” which directly recalls Ride’s Nowhere era stuff. The second track, however, sounds like a B-side from MBV’s Loveless, and I say this without a hint of derision. Sounding like a B-side from one of the best albums of the ’90s is really all you can hope to do if your MO is copping their aural aesthetic. And Astral makes it work – their derivativeness doesn’t detract from the tunes, which manage to hearken back to their forebears without sounding terribly out-of-date or unoriginal. If you love shoegaze, this is probably worth a little headphone time.

If you’ve never experienced shoegaze before, this might be a nice palatable entry into the genre, encompassing the styles of most of the major groups associated with it. If you hate shoegaze, you are probably no fun and should read a different magazine. (Vibraphone, David Nowacki

between sounding soft and rough, so if you’re in a relaxed mood, but also want some more upbeat music, Fading Parade is the way to go. The opener “Do You Really Wanna Know” starts of the album wonderfully, and I recommend you follow this Parade. (Sub Pop, Nicholas Van Doeselaar

PAPERCUTS FADING PARADE While listening to this album, I felt like I was in a dream. This album contains an open room feel the whole time, but it is filled to the brim quickly and strongly with a soft yet powerful playing style. Lead singer Jason Quever has the perfect voice for an open room sound. The echo of his strong but effortless voice creates an amazing atmosphere for the ear. The instrumental part of the music seems so lightly played, yet it fills up the room wonderfully with its soothing and full sound. The title of the album Fading Parade could very well be connected with the style of music. Although the feel is pretty close to having a Parade Fade away in front of you, at the same time it feels like you’re riding along with the parade the whole time. If you are in a party scene, I would recommend not spinning this album, unless it’s a relaxing party. The members of Papercuts have the perfect balance

SMALL BLACK New Chain As far as finding and signing solid indie is considered, Jagjaguwar is a ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ type figure to the music scene. Leading us out of the darkness with artists like Bon Iver, Black Mountain and Okkervil River, Small Black is another one of gems in the Jagjaguwar trove. Released in November of 2010, “New Chain” is ten tracks of elctro-rock goodness. Complex and absorbing, I can’t deny that this album is a dream for anyone looking for something solid for his or her “Recently Added” list. I won’t pretend like I know exactly how they make their stuff so freaking good – my best guess is that little aliens were in the recording studio, shooting laser guns of cool while Small Blackness got hit by a few while jamming, using their bleeps and buzzes all along the way. The album flows with a distinguishable sound common to each track. Smooth yet edge-frayed vocals, sharp beats and

casio (a la ’80s inspired) all adds up into one polished LP. As far as favorite tracks go, “Hyrda,” “Goons” and “Invisible Grid” are all on repeat for me. ( Jagjaguwar, Victoria King DUM DUM GIRLS He Gets Me High EP This album poses, to me, an existential question—which is really ironic because this is the most over-produced album I’ve heard thus far this year. If I were to take every moment in my life that I had turned on Top 40 radio before boy bands and Spice Girls, it would vaguely sound like this album. The instrumentation is really distinct, Dee Dee’s vocals are blissfully ignorant and wrapped in notably less reverb than I Will Be, and Richard Gottehrer of the Strangeloves (who wrote “I Want Candy,” among others) produced this album, as he did Dum Dum Girls’ full-length. And to top it all off, it ends with a cover of “There is a Light that Never Goes Out.” Seriously. So, if this EP is pop perfection—the holy ghost of pop music, if you will, and I’m at the pearly gates, listening to this thing, how could it possibly be too perfect? (Sub Pop, Taylor Burgess

VARIOUS ARTISTS CiTR Pop Alliance Compilation Volume 2 This notes on this disc boast that Vancouver’s got one of the best scenes around. However, before popping this in, I had only heard Slam Dunk, scrappy art-punkers (and even description that is being too generous). Howeverhowever, after popping this in, I heard ten stand-out acts (or at least ten stand-out tracks). A scene isn’t about what you know, it’s about what’s there to discover. I will admit, the range on the disc isn’t grand (i.e. no metal or IDM); it’s bursting out the doors with return-to-form indie rock like we should all be doing some rebirth of the twist, slows down with some mid-tempo club numbers, falls into some quiet indie pop, and then back to the head-bopping indie rock. I’d rather not even tell you which bands are on this record, because you can buy it yourself on Record Store Day, and all proceeds go to CiTR, the campus radio station in Vancouver that owns Discorder Magazine. Besides, half the fun is getting out there and discovering this wonderful music. (Mint, Taylor Burgess

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ere’s a weird shit history lesson. Before the French coined the term Art Brut (outsider art) there was Florence Foster Jenkins. Jenkins was arguably one of the first singers of the unconventional variety to gain a large cult following. From the beginning of her career in 1912 it was apparent that Jenkins, a wealthy socialite had little sense of pitch, rhythm and couldn’t sustain a note. However that didn’t stop Jenkins from buying recording time and renting out Opera houses. Despite her lack of ability, Jenkins was convinced of her greatness and would go on to spend her inheritance to prove the critics otherwise. Despite the laughing crowds and moniker of “the worlds worst opera singer” Jenkins continued to dismiss her critics saying: “People may say I can’t sing, but no one can ever say I didn’t sing.” Among her greatest achievements was a sold-out show at Carnage Hall where she wore elaborate attire and murdered classic songs such as “Valse Caressante.” Jenkins released nine arias on five 78-rpm records which would later culminate into a modern album of her collected works entitled Murder On The High C’s. The album captures all of Jenkins mind-blowing and hilarious performances including the eardestroying classics “Musical Snuff Box” and “Bell Song.” It’s difficult to say if Jenkins paved the way for future outsider artists however she did have the same unwavering tenacity as so many of the weird shits out there to keep on singing against all odds.

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Enough with the old in with the new...well relatively new. The uncovered works of Alabama power-child Amanda Whitt have been gaining an audience since being endorsed by outsider artist extraordinaire R. Stevie Moore and werido art coinsure Irwin Chusid. Recorded sometime between 1986 and 1989 all the recordings feature a growling, hyperactive, noisy kid screaming songs about horrible hybrid Tulips, pickle people and cookie worship. But somehow through her brother’s lo-fi breakbeats, crashing pots and pans, and her incoherent pre-pubescent growls we find a liberating and charming quality non-existent in most forms of music. If you hear

songs like “The Carpet Burns my Butt” and “Up Against the Wall Redneck Mama” you may realize that Amanda is quintessentially a punk-rock graduate at age eight. Songs like “Chaos” and “Concrete Nipples” will make you realize that this little girl has no ambition to sound nice just to destroy and attack the lyrics with a ferocity that is unmatched by most adult performers. Those of you who are terrified of screaming children may want to take a pass on this but I find the more I listen the more awesome it gets. Today, Amanda still lives in Alabama and manages a BBQ restaurant chain. Check out a sampling of her work at http://freemusicarchive. org/music/amanda.



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Mother Mother Eureka The Vibrating Beds The Vibrating Beds [7”] Cannon Bros. Cannon Bros. Imaginary Cities Temporary Resident Wanda Jackson The Party Ain’t Over The Liptonians Let’s All March Back Into The Sea Smoky Tigr Symfonic Holiday Miesha and The Spanks Gods of Love Dennett & De Groot The Holler Braids Native Speaker Various Artists Thai? Dai! PJ Harvey Let England Shake Les Jupes Modern Myths The Decemberists The King is Dead The Bokononists Cold Calm Blind Dumb Christine Fellows Femmes De Chez Nous The Hoots The Hoots The Witches A Haunted Person’s Guide to The... Young Galaxy Shapeshifting Eve Hell and the Razors When the Lights Go Out The Farrell Bros. Rumble @ The Opry! Kiran Ahluwalia Aam Zameen: Common Ground Hey Rosetta! Seeds Oliver Swain In a Big Machine Various Artists The Sound of Siam: Left Field…Thailand 64-75 The Grave Mistakes Dig Your Own Grave Amy MacDonald A Curious Thing The Animalistics Run Amuck Burnt Witch Survivors Group Burnt Witch Survivors Group The Dears Degeneration Street

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Last Gang Transistor 66 Self-Released Hidden Pony Third Man Self-Released Head In The Sand Transistor 66 Self-Released Flemish Eye Finders Keepers Island Head In The Sand Capitol Self-Released Six Shooter I’m Trying Alive Paper Bag Hell Fi Transistor 66 Self-Released Sonic Self-Released Soundway Self-Released Melodramatic Self-Released Self-Released Pheremone

December/January 2009 Stylus Magazine


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Stylus Magazine


Stylus Magazine -- Apr/May  

Stylus is published bi-monthly by the University of Winnipeg Students’ Association, with a circulation of 2,500. Stylus serves as the progra...

Stylus Magazine -- Apr/May  

Stylus is published bi-monthly by the University of Winnipeg Students’ Association, with a circulation of 2,500. Stylus serves as the progra...