Why Taylor Swift was right to break up with country music


by Matt Williams

For years now, the relationship between Taylor Swift and country music fans has been strained at best. Swift has been on an unstoppable rocket to peak fame and stardom, traveling at light-speed, since the beginning of her career, and until recently, she had at least managed to satiate her country fans, albeit less and less with each album. Red, arguably her best record to date, was almost devoid of anything resembling country, instead trading in the twang for new tricks like dubstep-lite (“I Knew You Were Trouble”) or straight-up bubblegum pop (“22”). But still, until Monday’s release of “Shake It Off,” the kickoff single from Swift’s upcoming “very first documented, official pop album” 1989, many still believed there was a chance for their saviour to come back home, or at least keep things country enough that she could pass for a slot at the CMAs. Continue reading “Why Taylor Swift was right to break up with country music”

Fear of Music :: Thy Shiny Compilation in the Night


An alternate history of Big Shiny Tunes 2

by Devin King

For a lot of people, Big Shiny Tunes was a big deal. We can say that, if for no other reason, by its sales figures. Big Shiny Tunes 2 is one of the highest selling albums in Canada, ever. Many of my generation have also been privy to nostalgic conversations about that series. This alt-rock compilation has served as a cultural touchstone – a sort of monoculture primer at the time, and defining cultural artifact now. Looking back, it would be easy to remember these songs as the only noteworthy songs of those years. However, Big Shiny Tunes – indeed, our very recollection of that time – could have been dramatically different. Continue reading “Fear of Music :: Thy Shiny Compilation in the Night”

Hillbilly Highway – Ryan Boldt on the dangers of the Highway, and Winnipeg Folk Fest 2014


by Sheldon Birnie

There’s no secret that Saskatoon’s Deep Dark Woods are a favourite of ours out here on the Highway. As such, we’re very fired up as the Winnipeg Folk Fest starts to creep up on us. I spoke with Ryan Boldt of the DDWs a month or so ago, and if you’ve seen the June/July 2014 issue of Stylus on stands, you may have read our feature. But not everything made it to print, and some of the best stuff was left on the cutting room floor. As I continue to listen to the Deep Dark Woods excellent Jubilee on repeat while I check my camping gear for all its essentials, here’s a bit of our conversation… Continue reading “Hillbilly Highway – Ryan Boldt on the dangers of the Highway, and Winnipeg Folk Fest 2014”

CKUWho :: Trouble With The Sandman


David Tymoshchuck is an integral member of the CKUW radio team. As the musical director and host of Trouble with the Sandman which has been breaking down walls in the overnight radio game since he graced Winnipeg from his hometown just outside of Riverton, Manitoba. Random features the hour of suck, backwards music and the dawn yodeller have become instrumental to Thursday night radio. Continue reading “CKUWho :: Trouble With The Sandman”

Hillbilly Highway – Brandy Zdan rolls into town for a homecoming show at the Park


by Sheldon Birnie

Winnipeg is well known at all points of the Hillbilly Highway as a musical hotbed in the heart of the continent. And while many love to look back on the heyday of our city’s musical past, there are plenty of contemporaries keeping the candle lit. Brandy Zdan is front row centre. 

Over five years ago, the singer, songwriter, and guitar player left Winnipeg for Austin, TX. At that time, Zdan was half of Twilight Hotel, a group which garnered plenty of critical praise and Highway miles. But Zdan has since branched out on her own, releasing Lone Hunter in 2013, and a record of instrumental in February of 2014. After establishing herself in the Texas songwriter scene, Brandy has taken the leap to Nashville. Currently, she’s on tour with another songwriter who is no stranger to the Highway, Winnipeg’s own Scott Nolan, for a cross Canada tour. Stylus caught up with Zdan as she was preparing to leave on the first leg of that jaunt.
Continue reading “Hillbilly Highway – Brandy Zdan rolls into town for a homecoming show at the Park”

Hillbilly Highway – Top 5 Acts I’d Love to See Up At Birds Hill This Year


by Sheldon Birnie

With the Winnipeg Folk Festival line-up announcement scheduled for this weekend, thousands of summer craving Manitobans are itching for those five days in July. While last year’s 40th Anniversary celebraish was a snooze-fest as far as most of the line-up went, it’s always possible the head honchos were playing it safe in stacking the line-up with some old (stale? mouldy?) faves. Now that the big anniversary has passed, many feel it’s high time the Folk Fest brass does something bold in terms of lineup in exchange for charging an arm & a leg for admission. Considering a weekend camping pass now runs nearly as much as a weekend pass for a Big Time Festival like Coachella or Bonnaroo, I’ve spoken with plenty of folks who’ve given up on the whole thing, choosing instead to save a load of cash and satisfy the craving for summer camping and good tunes at one of the many backwoods parties that have sprung up across Manitoba of late. Continue reading “Hillbilly Highway – Top 5 Acts I’d Love to See Up At Birds Hill This Year”