Top albums of 2010

These are the best ones

by Jeremy Curry

[image] Bonnie Prince Billy [image] Avi Buffalo

Joanna Newsom - Have One On Me (Drag City)

This one is a heavy chunk of pixie dust. Three LPs of harpin', yelpin', and houndin'. Newsom is known for having this weird 'Popeye' face when she sings, but so what? She can come over to my house and bang on that harp all night for all I care.

Sun City Girls - Funeral Mariachi (Abduction)

I had no idea this one would be warping my brain this year. It's actually a pretty tame record for Sir Richard Bishop and co. I mean, I couldn't play this record at my current workplace on account of the cultish chants and New Year's novelty horn blasts, but it is good for a good cat pat or a ritualistic Ouija board ceremony.

Oneohtrix Point Never - Returnal (Editions Mego)

I was hyping this guy a lot last year, and he managed to keep the hype train rolling in 2010 with Returnal. The heavy synth blasts feel like green ooze is seeping out your speakers. Listening to this record on headphones would be one sticky situation! The first half is a shit storm of heavy hitting hunks of noise, whereas the second half lets you sit back and dream about optical illusions for a while. Good one!

Avi Buffalo - s/t (Sub Pop)

I hate going somewhere and listening to somebody else pick records. I know that sounds really awful, but it's true. I'm sure a lot of people are like this, but they don't admit it. I always want to be the one choosing music. I was in a record store a few months back, and the clerk was playing this gem. For once, I took my headphones off and couldn't believe my ears! It was my first purchase based on what a record store guy was listening to. This band is full of a bunch of young kids who love to sing about screwing and having fun. It's an indie rock record, but it isn't boring like most of the shit that passes as 'indie' these days. Every band has to have 'bear' in its name, or something along those lines. What's up with that? The Buffalo is king.

Emeralds - Does It Look Like I'm Here? (Editions Mego)

I went to see this band a couple of months ago and they blew my shorts off. Heavy repetitive psychedelic synth bangers and guitar! Right up my alley. They were opening for that wussy band Caribou so nobody in the audience really gave a shit about them. I took their record home and gave it a whirl, and realized it needs to be played LOUD. This is the kind of music that should be played in a movie scene where someone is in space, and a horrible thing happens. The guy is running out of air, and he's too far from his space vessel to recharge. He hardly has any time! He's gonna die!

Marnie Stern - s/t (Kill Rock Stars)

This lady is awesome. She has super fast fingers and can belt out some wild chipmunk hollers. If you can melt minds with wild guitar styles, you're cool in my books.

Superchunk - Majesty Shredding (Merge)

THE CHUNK! Man, I love this band. They haven't done anything since I was in high school! Mac went on to do that boring Portistatic stuff and run his label (Merge), so I just assumed they were over. Plus, the last two albums were kind of wussy. SURPRISE! This pop-punk masterpiece just gets thrown out of the loins of Chapel Hill. Every song on this is perfect! The title is kind of stupid but don't let that fool you! Love the Chunk.

Rangda - False Flag (Drag City)

Unlike Superchunk, this band has a great name and album title. This is a "supergroup" of sorts. I mean, if you are into crazy guitar wailing. Remember when I mentioned Sir Richard Bishop a while back? Yeah, he's in this band. Ben Chasny from Six Organs Of Admittance is in here too. Oh yeah, and I don't want to leave out Chris Corsano. He's just some guy who played with Bjork and Sunburned Hand Of The Man. No biggie. The album is kind of what I expected when I heard about this band, but at the same time it's also way heavier and has more feedback than you can shake a stick at. The drones are here but man oh man. These are some hellish nightmare freak outs. Get ready for the four horsemen. The apocalypse is here.

Bonnie "Prince" Billy & The Cairo Gang - The Wonder Show Of The World (Drag City)

This is on heavy rotation at my house. Bonnie Billy always gives off a great old timey Americana vibe. He also makes me want to grow my beard larger. Emmett Kelly (The Cairo Gang) really does wonders for Mr. Billy, with a vocal style that seems to tie knots around Will Oldham's. It's really melancholy, and sometimes pretty dirty. Nothing like hearing a sad song, and then all of the sudden hearing Oldham talk about mustache rides.

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Dad Rock

I can feel Phil Collins in the air tonight

by Jeremy Curry

[image] Phil Collins

Before I get to Mr. Collins, I'll have to explain the nature of this column. Dad Rock is based on all the 'lite rock' music I have grown to love. My appreciation mostly stems from listening to it around my parents when I was younger, but has grown into a genuine love of certain musicians that would typically be considered ironic for someone in their mid-20s. I don't know exactly what I'm trying to do with this column, but hopefully I can gain the reader's trust into checking out some of these great artists. I thought it would be perfect to start with one of my favourites. So enjoy!

I've loved Phil Collins since getting into music in my early years. I was probably four of five years old when I heard Genesis's Invisible Touch for the first time. It's my favourite album that Collins is involved with. I'm sure most 'alternative' type people are into Peter Gabriel-era Genesis, rather than the Collins version, but I don't really give a shit about Peter Gabriel. Sure, that "Shock The Monkey" song is pretty cool, but I don't care about him otherwise.

The title track alone on Invisible Touch blows my mind. I still get excited when I hear it. At first, I didn't think Phil Collins was saying actual words. I thought he was just slurring sounds together that sounded cool. I would try to slur sounds together that sounded like him, and nobody ever called me on it. I had to figure out later on that he was saying "She seems to have an invisible touch, yeah!" which wasn't too embarrassing considering none of my friends liked him.

The album's second track, "Tonight, Tonight, Tonight", sounds like a much darker, old timey computer jam, but it's more of a spaced out weirdo love song. I don't really know what's going on there. Some of the similes and metaphors sound really dirty and weird, but I'm sure they're much more innocent than my dirty mind perceives them to be. Collins keeps saying he's "going down like a monkey, and it's alright." I don't know, but that sounds pretty intense and… primitive? I don't believe it is though, because the vast majority of his songs are quite tame, honest and heartbreaking.

Phil Collins has been divorced a couple of times, and he was heartbroken on both counts. He has written numerous songs about dealing with heartbreak, and the anger that comes with losing somebody he has loved. He seems like a very genuine person. A standup guy.

He was on an episode of NPR's This American Life once. A woman was talking about how she was dating this guy for a while with a mutual appreciation for Phil Collins. They both listened to him often, and felt similar to how I do about his music. After a while, the relationship went sour and they guy broke up with the girl. She was distraught, and decided she should write Collins a letter, and maybe on an off chance he would write her back. Well, he called her up, and they recorded the conversation on NPR! He was very nice and open about his past relationships with his exes.

Lots of Phil Collins' songs are about heartbreak and dealing with it, and I think that's one of the best things about them. They're very personal, but also revolve around everyday situations people have to deal with. Most popular musicians have writers working for them, or write vague songs about sad times. Collins has felt pain and sadness, and his songs are about how shit sucks but you just have to deal with it. Oh, and he has some love ballads too! Those are nice.

His other work in Genesis is pretty great, but I mostly go for Invisible Touch for the nostalgic value. The band's self-titled album starts off with the perfect build-up song, "Mama". It begins with some eerie keyboard psych-outs, and Collins saying some weird stuff about his mom… I think? Later on he goes into this maniacal laughter that freaks me out, but I swear, the build-up pays off!

Collins is great at build-ups, and super emotional croons. When he asks "can't you feel my heart?" it almost melts mine. His drumming skills are also very intense. I'm sure you would know that from his most popular tune, "In The Air Tonight", but I'll get to that later. I'm not so sure if the second track on Genesis's self-titled album was very popular, but it sounds like it was a single. The song is called "That's All". It has a bit of a middle-of-the-road boring vibe, but the chorus is pretty catchy, and there's a very soothing organ solo in the middle. Phil Collins' music is always comforting. Like Supertramp, the subject of my last article, Collins is never abrasive, offensive or boring. He's like a warm fire on a cold day. I don't love all of his music, but I will never turn his music off. Even his worst songs have something intriguing about them.

The other Collins-era Genesis album I enjoy is called Abacab. Before I get into this, I have to mention that Genesis album cover art sucks, except for the cover of Invisible Touch. So don't be fooled by the crappy squiggles and stupid colors. Abacab is much more proggy and adventurous than most of Collins' other endeavors. Some of the keyboards almost get into Krautrock territory. Collins will always play it safe though.

Abacab's title track has some distorted phaser-toned keyboards, and Collins trying his hardest to sound tough. He's intense, but will never pull off toughness! He is a small bald man. "No Reply At All", the second song, just sounds like a regular goofy tune. Horns blaring, keyboards dingling… all of the intensity is gone. The problem is that there isn't a GREAT Phil Collins album. They are mostly pretty good, and he does have a big enough catalogue to make an amazing greatest hits record, but he puts out these silly songs and works for Disney for cash. I can understand on a certain level, but am much more into his honest, intense depressing songs. Those are on his solo records, so let's move on!

Face Value has to be his most important album by a long shot, if only for the hit single, "In The Air Tonight". It's one of my favourite songs, and has one of the best build-ups in history. Actually, it IS the best. Do you remember the part in Risky Business where Tom Cruise gets randy with the hooker on the subway train, and they play this song? That part is awesome!!!! It works out perfectly.

"In The Air Tonight" also has a bunch of urban myths surrounding it. One of them was that Phil Collins watched some girl drown in the ocean, but wasn't able to run in and save her, and that's what the song is about. I think all of those urban myths are bullshit, and it's just a really great song. Another wonderful gem on this record is "I'm Not Moving". It's a pretty nice pop song about… doing whatever you want? I don't know what's it's about actually, but apparently Phil Collins will always be waiting for you afterwards, which is… comforting? It sounds good. La dee da.

No Jacket Required was another popular record if only for "Sussudio". I think that song is horrible, but there's a really heavy number on here called "Don't Lose My Number". There's a goofy guitar that twiddles in every once in a while for a zing, and some sort of marimba setting on the keyboard, but Collins is very adamant that this guy Billy doesn't lose his number. He tells him not to give up. You see? He is a helpful friend! Phil Collins will probably give you a reminder about your next dentist appointment if need be.

Last but not least, there's the single, "Easy Lover", which has to be one of the most fun songs of Phil Collins' career. It might have to do with Philip Bailey of Earth, Wind and Fire on guest vocals, but Collins still nails it. Having an "Easy Lover" doesn't sound that bad, right? Like it wouldn't be hard to get this person in bed? Well, Collins and Bailey lay down the law and give you reasons why it would suck. But hey, the song is a pop masterpiece!

There's much more of Collins' work to explore, but I've listed the standout albums and tracks. I realize he usually shoves all of his best songs at the beginning of his albums, but be patient! There are still some great stragglers. He's an honest man and a heartbreaker, but also a man who can reassure you that things will be okay.

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Tunes from the Crypt

Supertramp edition!

by Jeremy Curry

[image] Supertramp

I may be cheating with this edition of TFTC, considering the whole idea is to dig up music I used to listen to, or rare finds from the past. Supertramp is a band I never really got into until a couple years ago, and their albums are very easily accessible. I am sure if you look in your record collection, you are sure to find a copy of Breakfast In America hiding somewhere. A friend of mine mentioned to me that at one time he had three copies of that album, and no idea where any of them came from. You can hear Supertramp on any classic rock radio station being played religiously. The reason I'm writing about them is mostly because they're totally awesome, and also because people under the age of 40 largely ignore them.

I would describe Supertramp as a sort of space-prog sweaty beer-drinking dad rock. It’s the kind of music I can imagine guys in the ’70s airbrushing their vans to. It’s kind of all over the place, but it usually tells a nice story, which isn’t really valued in music anymore. The two albums I'm focusing on are their most popular, and in my opinion, the most essential.

First off, we will start with the more underrated but still popular Crime Of The Century. This one is my personal favourite. It's more prog than their more popular efforts, considering most of the songs pass the six-minute mark and get kind of spacey. I'm not talking wacky keyboard jammers like Yes, but more of a Billy Joel-esque piano sound. It isn’t as white bread as that, though, because the sound is usually layered with UFO synth lines or a blazing sax solo.

“Dreamer” is possibly the most recognizable song on this album. It consists of a repetitive piano slowly growing a wonky tone and back to normal, with a bunch of yelps and howls thrown in, vocal lines leaping back and forth, and a nice smooth build-up until the end. It's one of the shorter songs on the album, but everything is placed in such a perfect place. Sort of like getting equal amounts of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry ice cream in your bowl of Neapolitan.

Following this pop masterpiece is the more sci-fi sound of “Rudy”. The song goes into a nice sleepy lull for a bit, but emerges into a psych jam complete with sad saxophone honks and a string section! None of these songs grow too intense on the build-ups, which is usually a complaint of mine, but this band always quits before they get ahead of themselves.

Supertramp have been compared to Pink Floyd about a trillion times, but I think they offer much lighter fare. They are more of a radio rock band than Floyd, and they don’t rely on being weird or innovative. There is something about this band that seems so genuine and nice. This being said, the last track, which also happens to be the title track, is a bit dark, unlike the rest of the album. Sure, most of the lyrics can be a bit on the heavy side, but this song has a very brooding build-up into nothingness. Eerie, especially for a band I would hear on lite rock radio.

Supertramp’s most popular record and the one you would recognize most songs from is Breakfast In America. This album had a bunch of hit singles on it, some of which are still used on soundtracks, like the P.T. Anderson film Magnolia. The most popular song is “The Logical Song”, which I actually just heard on the radio, and sort of inspired me to start writing about this band in the first place. When I first heard this song I thought it was funny. Not really “ha ha” funny, but it had this weird structure I wasn’t used to in a conventional pop song. The vocals sound really different in the verses, compared to the chorus, and there is a part where the singer just lets out a huge “yip yip yeah!!” The saxophone blaring in the background is also an interesting addition to any song. This one was the hit!

The title track on this album is also amazing. Short but sweet, and I think there’s a tuba honking in the background!? Sure, it’s totally wacky and has some sort of Eastern European horn part at one point, but it never goes overboard! The vocals are really the part that hooks the listener in.

As a whole, Breakfast In America is only kind of lackluster when you listen to it AFTER Crime Of The Century. It seems like it was written specifically for the radio, as it would have been harder for Supertramp to have hit singles that were seven minutes long. Still, both albums are great for slamming back a few brews, baking lasagnas and chilling with pals!

Next up: My in-depth reviews of every awesome Phil Collins album…

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Depatterning with Gary

by Jeremy Curry

Gary Mentanko has been a long time friend for over a decade. I have known him as a music lover, and a sort of mentor for my musical tastes growing up. He now resides in Dublin, Ireland, where he has recently completed his second EP of some of the most bizarre, zonked out tones mixed with collected sounds I have heard. Mentanko goes under the moniker Depatterning, which makes a lot of sense. Most of the structures of patterns in his music are quickly lost in a haze of distorted bleeps and bloops, sometimes replaced by new patterns, only to be lost again.

From the biography section of his website, it states:

Through exhaustive sound collecting and audio manipulation his goal is to catalogue a sort of “culture of lost Canada” and present it in ways nearly remembered. This is balanced with an examination on the effect modern civilization has had on rural life in the 20th century, artistically portrayed in strangled sounds and blank spaces of sound.

Mentanko’s work definitely sounds like a hazy memory, like trying to remember a dream you just had, or a regular day when you were younger. Nothing special, just bits and pieces. Cataloguing the culture of lost Canada seems like a difficult challenge for such an artist. To most, ‘lost Canada’ can come across like a desolate, quiet place. The sound of tractors in wheat fields or other farm equipment does not seem like it would shock and awe. Paired with extraterrestrial tones and blown out crackles, it brings new light to an old flame.

Although I described his work as ‘hazy,’ I also believe that some of the volume levels on certain tones can be a little abrasive, and sound as if a swarm of bees is flying into your skull. I mean this as a compliment. There are some warbles and thick chunky floppy goo blobs that attack at random, and the whole murky molasses can suddenly float into the air without notice. Drones of what sound like quiet machinery whirr in the background as repetitive clicks slag on. It’s a factory of pink noise.

Mentanko’s first EP, Forestry Lessons, does in fact contain samples of a woman describing the forest and trees around her at one point. Of course, the sample fades in and out around spacey blasts and clinks, with an organ playing what sounds like a stream of consciousness array of notes. This is the last thing I would think of when reflecting on the outdoors, but the mind works in mysterious ways. The dreams we experience are never true to life. They are snippets, sometimes completely imaginative, or over-exaggerations of life. This is also true in memory. What you remember isn’t always true.

The second EP, The Liminal Farm, gives off more of the feeling of growing up in rural Saskatchewan than Mentanko’s previous release. It isn’t as broad, and carries more of a personal recollection. The track “Corner Store, Corner Store” has a bouncy, fun groove at the beginning, like the ice cream truck song. It reminds me of youth, riding my bike to the store to pick up candy and soda pop, and has such innocence to it. Tracks like “The Birds Came South Different”, however, kind of stump me if I am searching for meaning in the title. What the fuck is going on here? I don’t really care, because it sounds great.

These two EPs make me excited not only for Mr. Mentanko, but also for the future of electronic music and the process involved. Matmos was the first group I knew about who heavily incorporated found sound or field recording/sampling into their work. I hope more of this is encouraged, and possibly even welcomed into the mainstream.

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Sissy Bounce

Sled Island 2010 tears Calgary a new one

by Jeremy Curry

[image] Big Freedia (Photo: Arif Ansari)

Big Freedia [Photo: Arif Ansari]

The city of Calgary is usually a desolate wasteland in my eyes. It’s the same old dry, brown city churning out big trucks and designer cowboys day after day. It’s kind of like a western Las Vegas without any of the fake glam. Just a whole lot of money going into big businesses. During the summer, we’re usually bombarded by the awful atrocity that is the Stampede. Ten days of pseudo-cowboys boozin’ and crusin’, making many quiet lives a living hell. As such, it’s refreshing that the city now has a festival that will cater to the alternative. Sled Island seems to get better each year, and definitely more organized.

I was much more impressed with what was going on at this year’s festival than any of the previous ones. There were some blurry moments on account of alcohol, but all in all, I remember it quite well.

Tuesday night started out with some great art installations at The Straw gallery, followed by some zonked out jams by No Homo, Friendo and Women. Every set was impressive, and even someone as claustrophobic as myself could get down with the squishy crowd hopping about. No Homo was new to me, and their set was impressive but short, as they blared out extraterrestrial guitar freak outs.

Wednesday started out slow, with nothing much to do during the day. Slothing around the house and prepping for the non-stop festivities ahead was the best idea. The evening kicked off with a stroll to the Central United Church to see Wild Choir and Deerhoof.

[image] Deerhoof (Photo: Charles Gunn)

Deerhoof [Photo: Charles Gunn]

Wild Choir were nothing to write home about. The band consisted of too many people playing some boring surf rock/punk junk that seems to be pretty popular these days in the whole chill/thrill wave lo-garage pop scene. I mostly yawned through that. Deerhoof, were exceptional, though. The set list included songs from most of their back catalogue and they threw out some hilarious dance moves including a synchronized clock dance from all of the guitarists, which was charming. The band played a tight set, and the acoustics in a massive church didn’t hurt them either.

From there, a few of us zipped over to the HiFi Club to catch Anti-Pop Consortium. A rumour was going around that Beans, one of the members, wasn’t able to get over the border. Unfortunately, that rumour turned out to be true. The show was decent, but without Beans it seemed to fall a little flat. I love spacey stoner future raps, but it was a little difficult to get into. We left to hang at the Legion, which happened to be a shit storm of drunken debauchery.

I made it there in time to catch Ty Segall, who I hadn’t heard before. His breezy garage pop jams were like the calm before the storm. It was a very delightful time to relax, even though I had no idea what I was in store for us later on.

The storm happened to be an artist from New Orleans by the name of Big Freedia. He self describes his music as ‘Sissy Bounce’ music, and I don’t know if I could describe it better. At this point in the night, the crowd was a drunken, sweaty disaster of epic proportions. Big Freedia brought his ass-shaking lady onto the stage, wearing a tight bathing suit and exposing her big, jiggly butt. Massive bass blared out of the speakers, while this woman shook her ass, probably causing earthquakes around the downtown area. Meanwhile, Big Freedia rapped about big butts shaking and his relationships. Everyone in the audience had gone ass crazy, and a lot of grinding with strangers ensued. I was afraid an orgy would break out. Thankfully it didn’t, but it was close.

[image] Women (Photo: Rico Moran)

Women [Photo: Rico Moran]

Thursday I woke up with my hips hurting from shaking them around for a while, and with a tiny hangover. Gulped down some beers and a sandwich and it was time to jet! Onwards to the Texture/Weird Canada show! The Tubby Dog show started out with another new surprise in the form of a band called Dropping Out. They played some fuzzed-out Hillbilly Critter pop jams, and ended their set with an ‘infinidude’ dance, which I can’t really explain. It’s easier than it sounds, I swear.

Fist City followed them with some acid surf punk. It was good, but the tempo was really fast the whole time and it tuckered me out! Mount Analogue came next with possibly their best set ever, including a squonky sax player and wet ‘n’ wild cover of The Contortions’ “Contort Yourself”.

I have to admit, after this point things get very blurry. This is where I stopped pacing myself and my friends and I got pretty sloppy. I believe that’s part of the festival. It just happens.

First up, we ended up at the Republik to watch Women again. Their show was good, but the crowd was completely out of control. This woman in what looked like a jean dress and a cowboy hat was crowd surfing, and people were throwing beers everywhere. I believe that crowd surfing has to be one of the most selfish acts imaginable when going to shows, unless you are at some show where it is pretty much expected. Women were playing slow jams, and these people were going NUTS! I was standing far back, but felt bad for the people who ended up stuck in the pit.

[image] Chain and the Gang (Photo: Arif Ansari)

Chain and the Gang [Photo: Arif Ansari]

Next, we left to Broken City to catch Chain and the Gang. But before them, we saw this band called Turbo Fruits. I think they were one of the worst bands I saw during the festival. What was that? A jammy blues combo? No thanks! Ty Segall played after and did mostly covers and well, you know, it was breezy like before. Chain and the Gang ended the show with a lot of chants and audience participation as was expected, but I don’t really remember… A few of us went to hang by the river, and then off to bed.

Friday started off RIGHT! We went to this delicious pancake breakfast put on by Flemish Eye records. They had everything, including a chocolate fountain and mojitos! I was in heaven. Feeling pretty wonky from the night before, but that was my own fault. I had to gear up for another long day, so I kind of opted out of a lot of stuff to eat a burrito and take a nap.

When I woke up, I zipped over to this gross bar called The Distillery to see North of America. They were amazing as usual, and confused the hell out of a lot of people with their mathy jams. It’s kind of hard to bob your head to so much start/stop guitar work. It was like a reunion for people who used to go to all-ages shows back in the year 2000.

After North of America, the crowd pretty much cleared out, and this band that looked like a bunch of uncles came onto the stage. They were called Unnatural Helpers, and were pretty inoffensive. Cave came on after and blew us all away with some psychedelic krautish jams. I was zoning out through space and time during the last part of their set, even though they were having a bunch of technical difficulties. It was still a treat to ‘flow’ with the music. I’m sorry I turned into a hippie for 45 minutes last week. Then… TURBO FRUITS AGAIN!?!? How will I ever escape? I couldn’t because the stupid bar wouldn’t let me back inside if I left. I was stuck.

[image] Distillery (Photo: Tom Kerr)

Kevin Stebner dumbfounded by the sign at The Distillery [Photo: Tom Kerr]

Speaking of The Distillery – what’s up with that place? The venue would be good for shows, but all in all, it was miserable. The staff looked like they hated every single person there, and showed it when they served us drinks, in a slow and lazy manner. There was a sign on the door by the front saying ‘No Emo Fags’, which was totally offensive, and in between sets they played these horrible punk/screamy jams that were much louder than the bands themselves.

ANYWAY, back to the show. Les Savy Fav ended the night with a set that, well… I wasn’t that impressed with, even though I’d been looking forward to seeing them and Tim Harrington’s wacky stage antics. They played a few great songs from their back catalogue, but like the Women show, the crowd was really rowdy and pushy. Plus, all of the new songs they played seemed a little watered-down compared to their previous efforts. It was by no means bad, but it wasn’t great either. I guess after that it was time to get some sleep.

Saturday started off with Jesse Locke and I making a Texture Magazine poster in a total of three minutes for the second instalment of the Texture/Weird Canada showcase at Tubby Dog! It was another great show, starting off with Weird Canada’s own Aaron Levin and his band JAZZ. They played some hilarious cowboy hollering flipped-out garbage jams. A bass string flew off early in the set, but they held their own!

Tubby Dog packed it in for Sans AIDS following JAZZ, which I missed on account of the crowd. Puberty played to a full house, which is impressive considering they haven’t played a show together in almost a year. It was pretty flawless, and pretty cool that most of the audience still remembered the words to their songs.

[image] The Melvins (Photo: Tom Kerr)

The Melvins [Photo: Tom Kerr]

From there, I rode my bike over to Olympic Plaza to take in a little of the Main Stage festivities. It wasn’t too packed, but that made it much more of a safe environment for people not to get trampled during such heavy jams from Big Business and The Melvins. The Melvins put me into a stoner trance, as King Buzzo sludged it out in a huge cloak covered in animals. Metal Sideshow Bob turned me into a sloth. Hot Water Music came after this, and put everyone to sleep with their wienerish emo wails. Dinosaur Jr. laid down some incredible solos for a while, but I had bigger plans at the next show.

The Legion was already packed when I arrived, and for the first time at the festival, I had to wait in line. White Lung were just finishing up their set as I got in, and the crowd already seemed pretty stinkin’ drunk. No Age came on right after, and ended up sounding kind of boring. They were loud as fuck, but everything sounded kind of same-y and didn’t go anywhere interesting. The Legion was also boiling hot, and I think it was draining everyone’s spirits.

Just kidding! GZA came on and ripped the place a new butt hole! His flow was impeccable, and there were no hype men or stupid skits in the way of his rhymes. He covered a lot of his catalogue, including a bit of an Ol’ Dirty Bastard homage. The GZA had everyone throwing up their Wu-Tang Ws in the air, and rapping along to most of his classics. It was so high energy I ended up sweating out all of my beers for the day, and totally sobered up.

Fucked Up ended the night with the usual blown out post-hardcore jams with lead singer Pink Eyes taking off most of his clothes and doing crazy shit. Although probably not as insane as the Olympic Plaza show where he tore off all of his clothes and jumped into the crowd the day before, it was still high energy, and had the already tired crowd still sweating it out. I, on the other hand, felt like an old grandpa, and had to call it a night.

All in all, the festival was a huge success. The vast majority of the bands put on memorable shows, and the fans, volunteers, and people who helped out were mostly helpful and laid back. There were a few goons, but that’s always to be expected. If Sled Island keeps it up, it’ll be even bigger and better next year. With a bit of tweaking, it could even become the best festival in Canada.

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Sled Heads

Texture Magazine’s guide to some of the
gnarly bands playing Sled Island 2010

by Jeremy Curry

For four days this summer, Sled Island will once again take over the city of Calgary. Like the past three years of the festival, I expect lots of bike rides, beers and some of the best live music coming to our city. Personally, these are my favourite days of the year. There are so many things to do, and snack trucks littered around town, which I love. There are a few heavy hitters on the line-up for 2010 (Dinosaur Jr, !!!, the Melvins and Les Savy Fav, to name a few), but also some acts I haven’t heard of for years and a few that are brand spankin’ new. Here’s a list of recommendations for a few of these artists you should check out.

Beans / Anti-Pop Consortium

Anti-Pop Consortium

I used to listen to these guys in high school. After being into a lot of backpacker rap (boring), I found out about these guys. Basically, it sounds like some futuristic IDM robot rap. The hooks are bizarre, and the beats are pretty furious. They broke up for a while a few years ago, soon after playing a show in Calgary, but have since reunited and put out a new album. Beans is a member of APC who basically does the same thing. He played at Sled Island 2008 and laid down the jams.

Chain and the Gang

Chain and the Gang

Possibly my most anticipated band coming to the festival. Chain and the Gang features Ian Svenonius of the Make-up, Scene Creamers and Nation of Ulysses fame. I grew up listening to a lot of those bands, and Svenonius just keeps giving me the goods. As the name implies, there should be chain gang chants with expected audience participation. I’m not really into audience participation (clap-alongs are the worst) but I think this will be different. They’re playing a few times at the festival, so there should be no excuses to miss them.

Cave

Cave

Cave are a newish band who recently released an EP on super label Drag City. I haven’t listened to a ton of their stuff, but what I have heard ventures into psychedelic/Krautrock territory. Some of it sounds like older Japancakes or Neu! It’s really hard to classify bands without name-dropping other bands. I’m sorry. Let’s just say it’s wonky and fun.

Cex

Cex

I had no idea this guy was still around! Cex has been pumping out these heavy IDM beats for Kid 606’s label Tigerbeat 6 since he was 16. The last time he came to town, he squished his way onto a bill with the New Pornographers. Not many people were into it, being a mostly ‘twee’ crowd, and Cex kind of scared the shit out of everyone. He blasted these massive beats from his laptop while running around the audience screaming into people’s faces. He also smelled pretty bad and told us he took way too much ecstasy the night before. It was way better than the New Pornographers, by a long shot. Punk rock nerds.

Cheeseburger

Cheeseburger

The name is already intriguing, right? Who doesn’t like cheeseburgers, besides vegans and fussy little brats? This band is like a BBQ out of control. Too many beers are consumed, everyone takes off their shirts, a food fight ensues and eventually everybody gets too tired and lies on top of one another, covered in ketchup and BBQ sauce.

GZA

GZA

This is one of the larger names on the bill, but I HAD to include him. GZA is one of the more notable members of the Wu-tang Clan. If you haven’t heard his album Liquid Swords, I suggest you check it out. It’s one of the best rap albums around! This was a late announcement to the line-up, and I almost peed myself when I heard about it. Glad I didn’t, but it was exciting.

Deerhoof

Deerhoof

This band is so great. They’re such good musicians, and they play the noisiest, weirdest, cutest pop music I have ever heard. Is this even considered pop music? Nah. It’s hard to lump a band like this into a category. I could just say ‘rock’ but that’s also too vague. It’s sort of like how you might think of bears. Sure, they look cute and some of them love to eat honey, but they can also be very dangerous and noisy.

See you there!

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Venturing out into the depths

Selections and photo illustration by Jeremy Curry

Party Catfish

Most of the “weird” music I have found out about over the years has been through the British avant-garde music magazine The Wire or now defunct CBC radio program Brave New Waves. They are/were both quintessential outlets for new music and fascinating experiments. Without these, and of course the Internet, it would be much more difficult to scout out these amazing sounds. From indie-pop to experimental performances to just straight up Noise, I would be nowhere without those two. It is unfortunate the CBC cut out such a fantastic program, assuming it was not capable of maintaining enough listeners, but The Wire lives on. So, here's a list of 10 of the weirdest artists I've grown up listening to or recently stumbled upon.

1. Yiximalloo

Yiximalloo consists solely of Naofumi Ishimaru, who recruits a cast of loose collaborators for his vision: making some of the most irritable tones I have heard. It’s really hard to compare this guy to anybody, except for possibly Yamatsuka Eye (more info below). This is definitely a musician whose releases I put on sparingly. Only when the mood strikes, which is not often.

2. MC Hellshit and DJ Carhouse

[MP3 - "I’m eep"]

While I have unfortunately never found any of their physical releases, I did hear MC Hellshit and DJ Carhouse on a Brave New Waves episode profiling Boredoms frontman and avant-garde vocalist Yamatsuka Eye. Here, Eye is MC Hellshit, who yelps and growls while avant-garde composer Otomo Yoshihide (DJ Carhouse) annoyingly scratches records back and forth. They released two live albums in 1996, but haven’t done anything since.

3. Yogi Yorgesson – “Who Hid The Halibut On The Poop Deck?”

This track cracks me up every time. Yogi was featured on a lot of those Dr. Demento comedy records, but this is the weirdest comedy song I have heard. A lot of it has to do with his accent. It’s thick, goofy, and charming. Thanks to my fellow Texture contributor Matt Waddell for showing it to me.

4. No-Neck Blues Band

[MP3 - "Walking Wind"]

I purchased one of NNCK’s CD-R albums on a whim at Amoeba records when I was in L.A. a few years back. I was skeptical, mostly due to my dislike of current blues bands. What if it was labelled in the wrong section? I would be going home with a crappy blues CD. Fortunately, it was some strange electronic bleeps, long drones and hippie vocals. A real winner!

5. Girls Generation – “Gee”

(MV) Gee - Girls Generation !! - The funniest videos clips are here

I haven’t really found a good pop song in a few years, unless Jay-Z counts. I stumbled upon this jam last winter and thought it was completely over the top. It’s like rubber balls bouncing back and forth in your head, or if you drank 100 cups of coffee and went bungee jumping. Sure, Lady Gaga dresses weird or whatever, but her brand of pop music is completely uninteresting compared to this. [Editor’s note: K-Pop FTW!]

6. Acid Mothers Temple

I notice now that this list is heavy on Japanese artists, which means they've been doing something right in terms of making wild and weird music. Acid Mothers Temple are no exception. A collective compromised of mostly long-haired Japanese wizards wailing on guitars and synths. Awesome! I bought one of their albums in Vancouver when I was on a road trip with my parents, and made them play it in the car on the ride home. Whoops.

7. Christian Marclay

Christian Marclay may be the inventor of turntablism, or at least parallel to the use of it in hip-hop in the 1970s. He is a visual artist as well as a composer, and has worked with the likes of Christian Fennesz, Thurston Moore, John Zorn, Jim O’Rourke and Otomo Yoshihide. He spins damaged or manipulated records so they play in loops, and will never pay more than $1 for a record.

8. Carlos Giffoni

More loud tones, stomach churning drones, and pulsating beats to blast your eardrums. Carlos Giffoni also puts on the No Fun Fest every year, as well as runs the label No Fun Productions. He has a lot of experience with strange music. He is one of those artists who plays with a bunch of weird electronic gizmos and boxes in front of him and you wonder how the hell he makes those blaring tones.

9. Tetsu Inoue

[MP3 - "Square Curves"]

Tetsu Inoue is an electronic music composer that has been lumped into the “ambient” or “minimalist” category, although some of his music has more of an IDM feel to it, with violent sounding bass rattles and confusing clicks. I wouldn’t categorize this musician into a subgenre, although he does possess many ambient works on his platter.

10. Yuka Honda

[MP3 - "Hydrosphere"]

Known mostly for her work in Cibo Matto, Yuka Honda is a multi-instrumentalist who resides in New York, and currently plays in Yoko Ono’s live band. Her latest album, Heart Chamber Phantoms, was released on John Zorn's Tzadik label. It’s like an old jazz record playing in a kitchen while dinner is made. It sounds warbly and sometimes ventures out into the depths of space, unaware of its descent back to earth.

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Cliffhangers part 6

Words: Jeremy Curry // Art: Kiarra Albina

Cosby

The boys and Cliff moved at a snail’s pace and watched from the stairs as Vanessa puckered up, ready to deliver the exciting news. Claire burst through the kitchen doors, sensing something was wrong. “What is it, honey?” Claire was overprotective when it came to her daughters. Theo, though? He had gotten into enough shenanigans over the years, so she left him mostly to his own devices.

“Donovan asked me to the homecoming dance this Friday!” Vanessa spewed. Her eyes lit up like Christmas lights. “Why is this NEWS?!” Theo yelled, and stomped back up to his room, with Cockroach in tow. “I’M NOT DONE WITH YOU YET!” screamed Cliff. Claire, then adamantly reminded Cliff “…and I am not done with you yet either.” She had put her foot down this time. There were no excuses. No way out this time. Cliff just wanted to disappear. It wasn’t worth his marriage to be hiding from a relatively minor hoagie mistake.

Vanessa glanced around the room, noticing everybody was already busy with their own problems, and all eyes were off her. Her news mattered to nobody else, but her 14-year-old brain could not comprehend this. She was obviously upset, and chose the most irrational way to lash out that she could think of at the time. She wept and ran up the stairs.

“Why did you upset Vanessa?” Claire snapped at Cliff. “What are you talking about? You changed the subject!” Another argument was piling on. Cliff had a feeling he might be sleeping on the couch this evening unless he patched things up. He would have to talk to Vanessa, still had his unfinished suspicions with the two boys upstairs, and of course the hoagie.

“Cliff, you march upstairs to Vanessa’s bedroom and you apologize for ignoring her. She has been trying to ask this boy out for quite some time, and she finally succeeded. The least you could do would be to show a little support. When you are done, you march right back down here so we can finish what we started.” Cliff was spent. He was so exhausted by this point that he was vowing to himself to never touch a hoagie again.

Cliff marched back up the stairs again. Defeated. Ready to throw in the towel. His knees were cracking with every step. He was truly out of shape. His wife was right. Hoagies were out of the question. It was going to be water and salads from now on. He reached Vanessa’s room, and just decided this time to barge right in. She was probably moping on her bed, or reading one of her teen magazines. Cliff swung the door open. Vanessa was turned to her window. Her head quickly whipped around, in shock. Cliff could see a tiny head in the window. It looked like a young man. His head popped down, out of sight…

To be continued…

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Tunes from the Crypt

by Jeremy Curry

Tunes from the Crypt is a semi-regular feature for Texture Magazine with a rotating cast of writers. Its aim is to unearth overlooked, forgotten or little-known musical artifacts, found in the dusty discount or used bins of record shops, your cool uncle’s attic, church bazaars, garage sales, so-called ‘alternative channels’ or simply hiding in plain view on the Internet.

1. Joan of Arc - The Gap (Jade Tree)

Joan of Arc - The Gap (Jade Tree)

This is the perfect record for anybody in high school who wants to “break the mould.” Upon its release it was considered to be one of the stranger efforts by Joan of Arc, although I can’t really tell the difference. Sure, there are sounds of kitchen appliances clinking around, and everything seems just a bit off, like you’re playing the record at the wrong speed. However, I think most Joan of Arc albums are weird. They always have this strange feeling like a puzzle you get at a garage sale; you can make out the picture, but some of the pieces are missing.

I first listened to this album in my grade 11 art class. This was pretty much the perfect environment to first get into this band. My friend put it on the communal art room stereo and everybody in class was pissed off about it. That is, everybody except me. I was pretty excited that such a weird album could also sound kind of pretty, and also really depressing. It didn’t help the other students that the songs kept sounding like they were skipping when they weren’t. The usual song structure most of my classmates were used to was thrown out the window, save for a couple of straight up jams (lasting a few seconds). I was once told this band and particular record was “pretentious.” I don’t believe that’s an accurate word to describe The Gap. I think it’s just eccentric.

2. Bonnie Tyler – “Total Eclipse of the Heart”

Lately, my roommate and I have gotten this song stuck in our heads. We sing it while we are waiting for new episodes of Lost to download on the computer, we sing it while making breakfast, or while we have a mouthful of toothpaste, getting ready for bed. We both agree it is a really amazing, emotional, epic of a song that cannot be fucked with. Apparently there were rumours going around that it wasn’t a guy singing along with her, and instead her voice was manipulated, which is complete bullshit. We have been singing and talking about the song so often without actually listening to it, that we eventually just found it on our friends’ iPhone and listened to the YouTube video in the car. I guess the guy who posted the song just recorded it from a microphone in his house, because you could hear a dog barking in the background. I believe this only enhanced the song.

The best part in the song is when B.T. starts sounding really angry. She starts “sing-screaming,” which doesn’t really happen in music anymore. It is usually one or the other. A lot of ’80s music is kitschy and now only played for ironic reasons, but this is different. It’s a pretty solid song. I wish I could say that about the whole album, but it kind of sucks.

3. The Locust/Melt Banana – Split 7” (GSL)

The Locust/Melt Banana – Split 7

Grindcore was a big thing in the early 2000s for a lot of people with Spock haircuts and really tall shoes. They sort of looked like skinny versions of Frankenstein. I am proud to have been a part of that era. ANYWAY, this 7” was totally ape-shit to listen to when I first bought it. It was confusing because at the time my record player was on the fritz and was playing at the wrong speed a lot of the time. When I first put on the Melt Banana side of the record I thought it was playing much too quickly. I guess I was wrong. They just sound like they’re on fast forward ALL THE TIME! I had listened to The Locust a billion times before and knew they sang like angry bug men, but the Melt Banana side was like being in Japan on a whole bunch of speed. Plus, the cover has some sad lady cuddling up with a penis monster. Weird stuff, mannn…

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Cliffhangers part 5

Words: Jeremy Curry // Art: Kiarra Albina

Cosby

“BAM BAM BAM!” A very loud knock made the two boys almost literally jump right out of their seats. Their beers flew out of their hands, and onto the carpet, making two large, visible spills. They quickly grabbed a couple of Theo’s dirty t-shirts and started scrubbing as hard as they could. “What is it?” Theo chimed. “It’s your father. Turn your music down and come out of your room.” Theo was surprised, but thankful his dad didn’t just barge into his room like he usually did.

Cliff was usually suspicious of his son’s behaviour, but thought nothing of it this time. He had just rushed up the stairs, hearing Theo’s loud music and thinking of an excuse to be busy. His duties as a father always got him out of sticky situations with his wife — at least temporarily. He would soon have to face the music, but as long as the children were around, he could find ways to interfere in their business. This evening was going to be a long one for everybody in the Huxtable household.

Claire had almost finished blowing off steam until she saw Cliff wobble up the stairs. Because he was out of shape, he could not run straight. He always wobbled quickly, like a penguin being pursued by a seal. It was usually charming, but in this instance of health and dieting, it was a pathetic display of cowardice and unhealthy living. She was going to scream at him, but instead, knew a worse punishment. She was going to manipulate him. She stayed silent, and marched into the kitchen to prepare a healthy dinner for herself and the children.

Meanwhile, Theo and Cockroach were freaking out about Cliff calling them downstairs. Did he know about the beers? How did he find out? Did beers have a distinct smell? Will it come out of the carpet? So many questions, but no time to answer them! “HURRY UP!” Cliff bellowed. He was wasting no time in bothering the children. Theo and Roach threw the dirty beer-soaked shirts into the hamper and slowly exited the room. “What are you two boys up to?” Cliff asked in a calm, soft voice. “Nothing dad… just working on homework…” Theo stammered. Cliff’s calm tone was always confusing to Theo. Half of the time it was sincere, but the other half of the time Cliff was playing mind games with his son. Had Theo done something else wrong he had forgotten about? Did something strange happen at school today? It was all a blur, and Theo was buzzed off of that Bud.

While Cliff was about to continue the awkward conversation between him and his son, Vanessa burst through the front door. “Hey! Anybody home?! I have fantastic news!”

To be continued…

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Tunes from the Crypt

by Jeremy Curry

Tunes from the Crypt is a new regular feature for Texture Magazine with a rotating cast of writers. Its aim is to unearth forgotten, little-known or otherwise overlooked musical artifacts, found in the dusty discount or used bins of record shops, your cool uncle’s attic, church bazaars, garage sales, so-called ‘alternative channels’ or simply hiding in plain view on the Internet.

1. Need New Body - UFO (5 Rue Christine, 2003)

Need New Body - UFO

I am not sure how obscure this band is right now, but I forgot all about them until I randomly pulled out their record, UFO, the other day. The record cover was just a thin piece of paper, spray painted with a bunch of stencils randomly placed all over it. This album came out before all of that Adult Swim ADD humor became the norm, and short and fast songs were more associated with bands like The Locust and other 31G grind acts. The pop song was primarily 3.5 minutes long, and usually had more structure and flow than this band, which is why I loved them.

The songs mostly involve a lot of hollering and hooting, and though they are catchy, they also have this abrasive quality, which lumped them onto the Kill Rock Stars weirder, now sadly defunct offshoot label, 5 Rue Christine. Deerhoof and Xiu Xiu were also on this label, just to give you an idea of the stuff we are dealing with.

This particular record was created using banjos, 8-bit video game consoles and garbage can percussion, amongst the usual slew of instruments. This isn't really a new thing with bands these days, but at the time, it was considered to be very unusual. Kids these days grab whatever crap they can find off of the street to make a band.

UFO reminds me of my youth, but not an innocent one. It reminds me of doing stupid things, like this time I went door-to-door selling a bunch of junk my friend and I had found. One of the things we were selling was just a bag full of dirt. A bag of DIRT! We went into a neighbour’s home with a bunch of our products, and my friend accidentally dropped the bag of dirt onto the ground! We just ran away so fast. This is a great record to listen to while reminiscing with your pals about all of the stupid stuff you used to do, and the great times when you actually got away with it.

http://www.myspace.com/neednewbody

2. Mu – Afro Finger and Gel (Output/Tigersushi, 2003)

Afro Finger and Gel

This is another album I don't believe is that off of the radar, although it sure sounds like it! One of the more weirdo electronic albums I own. Mu is a husband and wife duo. When I hear this, I usually think I am going to be bored by some cutesy Mates Of State pop garbage, but this sounds like some alien meeting of the worlds!

The broken English of singer/yelper Mutsumi Kanamori sounds even more bizarre than it should, being twisted and churned through a ton of effects. She squelches, squeals and barfs out some totally insane sounding stuff, but it might just all be about getting on the dance floor. The vocals are a confusing whirlwind that can charm and scare the pants off anyone at the exact same time.

Kanamori's husband Maurice Fulton blasts these pulsating basslines, sci-fi computer bleeps, and what sounds like calypso jams at times? Strange ghost echoes can be heard, and old electro rhythms are bended and shaped into a wicked junk pile of gnarly jams.

Somebody should write a science fiction screenplay while listening to this album over and over. It would turn out to be the most “spaced out!” thing ever created — completely psychedelic, with no real regard for plot or timing. Sort of like what I wanted that movie Up to be like. I thought that grandpa and the kid would just be floating in the balloon, just breezing along for two hours. Boy, was I ever disappointed.

http://www.myspace.com/mutsumiakamu

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Cliffhangers part 4

by Jeremy Curry

Illustration by Kiarra Albina

Kiarra Albina - Cosby 4

Cockroach pulled out two large cans of Budweiser beer, closed up his binder and threw the brews on top. “I got these from my fridge at home,” he exclaimed with a smirk. “Try some.” Theo had never tried an alcoholic beverage in his life, and had been hounded by his father that alcohol would do serious damage to a boy if he was under the age limit. Cliff and Claire were known to have the odd glass of wine, but it never escalated beyond that. The fridge was usually stocked with various juices and jugs of water. Beer was not a normal thing in the Huxtable household.

“I don’t know Cockroach…” Theo timidly replied. “What if my dad busts us?” Theo was known for receiving harsh and unusual — but fair — punishments when he did something stupid. He was once forced into waking up at dawn for a couple of months to work in the missionary soup kitchen because of a wild party he held while his parents were out of town. The party was only supposed to be a small get-together with friends, but word got out and it soon turned into a raging party, which almost destroyed the whole Huxtable residence. Theo and his good friends managed to clean up most of the mess, but when Cliff and Claire got home, the living room table fell apart in front of them and the jig was up.

“Don’t worry man, it’s only one beer. This will loosen us up a bit! No harm done.” Cockroach sounded very confident in saying this. It put Theo at ease, and his guilt subsided. “Sure, why not? Crack it!” Theo exclaimed. Suddenly there was a banging on the wall. It was from Rudy’s room again. There were no words being said, but the knocking was a large indicator in the volume of Theo’s voice. He had to keep quiet or else someone was bound to burst in. Theo and Cockroach put their beers underneath Theo’s comforter, in order to mask the cracking of the two cans. “Krrrk!” The cans blasted open and beer quickly oozed out onto Theo’s bed. They both quickly sprung into action and slurped up the flowing brew.

The boys felt like sophisticated adults. They only saw men drinking beer on television from large frosty mugs. If only the babes at school could see them now! Two fine gentlemen sipping brews on a weeknight. What sophistication! What class! The taste was a little bit funky, but who cares? It was something the two gents would have to get used to. Theo felt so great about this that he put on one of his favourite songs, “You Can’t Stop The Music”. The jams were blaring and the boys were maxing and relaxing, without a care in the world. Homework was quickly forgotten, and the topic of babes was back in full force.

Unfortunately for these two fine fellows, they couldn’t hear the knocking on the wall anymore, nor could they hear the sound of foot steps approaching from downstairs…

To be continued…

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Top 9 of Whatever in 2009

by Jeremy Curry

1. Space Rabies

Marki Sveen - Space Rabies

Jesse Locke and I started this band as a total joke. It started with me on synth and him on drums. We made a tape which is so rare that I don’t think either of us have a copy anymore. The whole thing was improvisational. We eventually gathered some of our friends to play shows with us, and since then it has blossomed into one of the most fun and interesting bands for anybody to be a part of, in my opinion. Highlights were playing Sled Island, at the Marquee Room with something like six drummers, and playing in the basement of the Arbour Lake Sghool with our “Southern space rock” band, Worst Sauce.

2. Jim O’Rourke The Visitor

Jim O'Rourke

I was completely surprised by the release of this album, and it is one of my favourites of this year. Then again, he is one of my all-time favourite musicians, so this doesn’t really come as that much of a surprise to me. The rumours at the time were that Mr. O’Rourke was living in Japan working on film, and that he had quit music altogether. Instead, I was treated to one song clocking in at almost 40 minutes compromised of hundreds of tracks layered upon each other, some a bit satirical, but still sounding great at the same time. It’s hard to explain something I enjoy so much, but this is a great record.

3. Shawarma Knight

Shawarma Knight Logo

This is a great joint in Calgary I found when I moved downtown. I have no idea why I didn’t know about it before. I think somebody may have mentioned it to me at some point in the past, but it seemed far and I had other places to pick up donairs. Shawarma Knight is about seven blocks from my house, and I have become addicted to it. They fill up the donairs with so many toppings, and the sweet sauce is fantastic! Once I was eating a donair at home, and it was so packed up with ingredients that I squeezed it too tightly and sauce blasted out of the bottom onto my pants! I had to go out to the bar to meet friends in a hurry and I didn’t even care that I had sauce all over me.

4. Mutek in Edmonton

Mutek Logo

Jesse and I took a micro trip to Edmonton in the spring time to see some electronic musicians play this tour. We weren’t that familiar with any of the artists, but it was cool to go and see the wasteland that is Edmonton. We ended up going to Hooters in West Edmonton Mall, because I had never been there. It was pretty sleazy and pretty much just as I expected, but fun nonetheless. We stayed with our friend Alice, where we watched Roseanne while drawing pictures of her saying “I’m HUNGRY!”, made ‘ditch dawgs’ and drank a ton of vodka/Red Bulls, to the point where Jesse thought he might barf!

5. Space Garbage Jail

Le voyage dans la lune (1902)

This was actually invented at the end of 2008, but there was more talk about it this year. Space Garbage Jail basically eliminates two problems: The overpopulation of inmates in prison and the amount of garbage that is thrown away. Why not build an extremely large jail out of all of the waste, shoot it up into space and transport criminals there? Remember when Obama said he was going to close down Guantanamo Bay, and all these people went nuts and thought the prisoners would escape if they were transferred to another prison? This wouldn’t have even been an issue if there were a Space Garbage Jail. Blast ‘em up there and never see or hear from them again. Obviously, this would only be for the most dangerous criminals.

6. My cat, Egon Spengler

The O.G. Egon Spengler

2008-2009, R.I.P. Actually, she ran away, but I’d rather be more miserable about it.

7. Mike Sacks And Here’s The Kicker

And Here's the Kicker

This is a wonderful book I found about a month back. It is just a compilation of interviews with different humour writers who talk about their careers, comedy in general, how they write and short backgrounds on their lives. It is pretty inspirational and very funny. Some of my favourite writers are in here, like David Sedaris, Al Jaffee and Paul Feig. Some of the best advice for a young comedy writer is in here.

8. Monotonix at Tubby Dog

This was another great show at Sled Island. There were a bunch more, but the whole time was pretty hazy for me. Crazy dudes with big moustaches throwing around ketchup and cereal for a while and then playing heavy jams on top of a mailbox outside? Can’t go wrong. I heard their other show at Dickens Pub involved some of the audience ripping down a ceiling fan. Rock and roll at its finest.

9. St. Vincent Actor

St.Vincent

Another wonderful album. This is on heavy rotation at my house a lot of the time. It has all of the right elements for a great album, including a great horn section. I didn’t think I would really be into this, but it has not only grown on me, it has stuck to me. I listened to it a ton in the summer, and I am actually listening to it right now while I write this. She has a great voice, and is quirky, but not to the point of being a parody. I’m mostly into a lot of sad sack music, but this kind of took me out of that funk.

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Cliffhangers part 3

by Jeremy Curry

Illustration by Kiarra Albina

Cosby 3

Claire stomped furiously, twice onto the floor. She had had it with Cliff’s childlike solutions to problems. Running and hiding? Hmph! She was also exhausted. Claire was a busy woman who not only worked but also was the primary caregiver for the children. It seemed to her that sometimes Cliff was just around for cheap laughs and to make simple lessons of life much more complicated than they needed to be. Making the children hold plays in the foyer, forcing them to trick each other into doing something — it all seemed like a lot of work for little or no pay off.

Just as Claire was standing there, contemplating what to do, Theo flew in the house with one of his friends, Cockroach. Cockroach was a regular visitor to the Huxtable residence, and seemed like a nice enough fellow. The nickname was a bit odd, but teenagers do and say some strange things. “Hey mom!” Theo yelled as he ran to his room. In most circumstances, this would prompt Claire to ask him why he was in such a hurry, and if there was anything strange going on with him. Luckily for Theo, Claire was too angry at Cliff to have anything else cross her mind.

When Theo and Cockroach were safe in the confines of Theo’s room, they both threw down their knapsacks and started reminiscing about the beautiful girls they saw that day. “Did you see Wanda at the water fountain? Mmm Mmm! She was on fire!” Cockroach quipped. “I’d like to put that fire out… with my tongue!” This escalated for quite some time until Theo’s sister Rudy knocked on the wall separating their rooms and told him to knock it off.

Back in the basement, Cliff was arranging his record collection. He had neglected to put them back in alphabetical order for the last few months, and was eager to have them back, as well as to take his mind off of the trouble he was in with his wife. He thought about what he was going to say to Claire when he decided to go back upstairs, but nothing seemed clever enough. He knew even if he did think of something clever, by the time he made it upstairs, everything would change and he would end up saying something stupid. He heard Theo arrive home and wondered why he sprinted up to his room so fast. “What is that boy scheming?” He thought to himself. He wanted to find out, but would have to face dire consequences if he did.

Theo’s room had subsided from the loud “babe talk,” as the two boys were starting their algebra homework. Theo was horrible at the subject, but thought as long as he managed to get his homework in on time, his grades wouldn’t be too bad. Grades were docked for late assignments, so he made sure to have his assignments in on time, all of the time. Him and Cockroach were becoming extremely bored, and a bit antsy. Cockroach then reached into his bag. “We need to have a little fun here. Try this.”

To be continued…

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Cliffhangers part 2

by Jeremy Curry

Illustration by Kiarra Albina

Cosby 2

Claire rolled her eyes, aggressively squeezed the hoagie, causing the sauce to splatter on the floor, and threw it in the garbage. “Even Theo knows better than to pull a stunt like this!” she spouted.

While this ruckus was happening, Cliff was upstairs helping Rudy memorize the multiplication table, using comparisons to jazz theory, which she hardly understood. He was completely oblivious to the situation downstairs, or even that the hoagie would stink. “Cliff?” Claire’s voice echoed from downstairs. “I need to speeeakkk with yooouuuu…”

Cliff’s eyes bulged almost completely out of their sockets. He knew this particular tone of voice. It was not only a tone of anger, but also disappointment. He slowly crept down the stairs, holding his hands behind his back as though he were in a shop containing a lot of breakable items. Claire asked, “Cliff, do you know why I asked you down here?” Cliff lowered his eyes to the floor and shook his head. Sheepishly, he answered, “no, ma’am.”

Claire burst into a tornado full of rage. She talked in one long sentence that, in Cliff’s mind, felt like an eternity. “What did I tell you about eating these fatty foods don’t you know they are bad for you I mean you are a doctor after all you are such a hypocrite for giving your patients dietary advice if you yourself do not use it how can you go sneaking around my back this is a trust issue what else have you been hiding from me why can’t you just tell me when you want a snack you should watch your health we are getting older and we have to be careful what we eat….!!!!?!?!?!?!?!”

“STOP IT!” Cliff exclaimed, and then he started sobbing uncontrollably. “A MAN NEEDS HIS SPACE.” Cliff then ran into the basement, where he spends his alone time after a hard day of work, or when things seem a little stressful.

The basement was childproof, but only in the sense that nobody under the age of 17 would want to be down there. It would be too boring. Instead of a CD player, there was an old record player that could only work if you placed a dime on the needle cartridge. The only records down there were classic jazz records. There was a TV, but without cable, or a remote. You had to turn a dial to operate it. The furniture was old and drab, and it was much darker than the rest of thee house. The Huxtable children did not dare venture into the basement, unless to call their father upstairs for dinner.

Cliff put on one of his favorite Dizzy Gillespie records and took a rest on the couch. His brain was working overtime. “How did she find out about my hoagie stash? What gave it away? Why is this situation such a big deal? You only live once,” he thought. He knew his escape would not last long. He also knew that HE was overreacting as well, and that just made things a lot worse.

To be continued…

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Cliffhangers part 1

by Jeremy Curry

Illustration by Kiarra Albina

Cosby

He could barely stand it anymore. He sat in the living room in the middle of the couch, with his elbows resting against the table, his hands pressed firmly on his cheeks and his head hung low. “How could she have done this to me?” he muttered. Before exiting their New York City town house to attend parent-teacher conferences, Claire Huxtable found Cliffs’ secret hoagie stash underneath the loveseat.

For years, Cliff had hidden hoagies underneath the couch before Claire would trot off to their children’s parent-teacher conferences, unbeknownst to Claire. She would go to the interviews as long as Cliff stayed home to sit the children. All of the Huxtable children knew of this particular secret, but kept it quiet in exchange for candy and the chance to stay up later then their usual allotted bedtime.

The reason Cliff got caught was not due to his children babbling. In fact, the problem came from the hoagie itself. Cliff usually obtained his hoagies from Ahmed’s Hoagies n’ Such, located three blocks from their home. However, in this particular day, Cliff had no time to get there. He had an emergency at his work, and had to take the late train home. Next to the station was Queen Hoagie, which happened to make their sandwiches more recklessly and quick, but delicious nonetheless. He had just enough time to stop by Queen's before hopping on the train. The thing about going to Ahmeds was that they took their time preparing, as well as packaging their hoagies. Queen Hoagie is more about quantity rather than quality. The reason this is important has to do with the packaging. When Cliff hides his hoagies under the couch, they are usually wrapped tightly and neatly, as to not emit a smell or a leak. This hoagie was sloppily wrapped, with a small crevice open on one end of the sandwich. When cliff rolled it under the couch, the sauce oozed onto the carpet, creating an obvious scent of fatty food.

Claire had warned Cliff about hoagies many times in the past. He ignored her warnings about heart problems caused by eating fatty foods. Although he was a doctor and knew all about his own dietary problems, he chose to ignore them completely in order to enjoy his favorite foods. His favorite meal consisted of:

So when Claire arrived back home after a long, stressful day at work, the last thing she wanted was to find out her husband was lying to her about his dietary habits. As soon as she dropped her bag next to the front door, she could smell the scent of the sauce. The scent was powerful, and Claire knew it wasn’t any food from home, because she made an effort to discard all fatty foods from the house, and to ensure all food was “mostly bland and tasteless”, in Cliff’s words.

To be continued…

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