Pompous Old Fart

Gambling with God
(Last Gang Records)

Gambling with God is a disc by a Canadian group called Magneta Lane. It’s not very good. The tracks feature that Antichrist of a musical effect called “fuzzy guitar.” The sound is as annoying as a lawn full of grackles or an up-close buzz saw. I don’t know what the songs were about, as the instruments drowned the words out, and the advance album had no insert. I don’t think I was missing much. The group is a trio of women and they come from Toronto. This is their third album. I hope to God there isn’t a fourth.

I haven’t bought the re-released Beatles oeuvre yet, but my 11-year-old granddaughter is into their music, so I contacted my brother in the UK who, in 1968, filmed the Beatles as part of a BBC documentary called Music. He sent me a clip from that movie featuring the recording of “Hey Jude,” with close-ups of Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Ringo, along with their eminence grise, George Martin. The session ended with the crew being asked to sing along with the final “Da, da, da dadada da,” so if you play that track, one of the voices on it is my brother Ian’s.

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Rob Vilar’s Story Time – Julianna Barwick

By Rob Vilar


After a brief washroom break, I get back to my refueled Dodge and pay the gas attendant for her service.
“Where you going?” she asks.
“I don’t know. Somewhere,”  I answer.
“Getting away from something?”
“Maybe something like that,” I reply as I step into my Dodge Challenger and begin to drive off the lot.
“You come back again,” she says.
I return to the highway and re-adjust my rear view mirror. I notice that the procession of cop cars off in the distance has intensified since the last time I checked. I light a cigarette and turn the radio on. My favorite DJ is back on air.
“Well, after a much-needed break to relieve this old vein of mine, let’s get back to the narrative at hand. Vilar, you’ve done well until now but these are desert plains you’re approaching, my friend…and the heat which I’m sure you’ve noticed, has gotten hotter. Well, to make things a bit bearable, I’ll play you something off the recent Julianna Barwick EP, Florine. A small number titled “Cloudbank.” I hope there is a cloud bank on the horizon for you.”  The DJ drops it. Upon hearing the song on the radio, my mind starts to drift to another time and place in the past, somewhere in a Motel 6…

She comes out of the shower and into our room while using up the last of our allotted towels. I lay on the bed, working on a crossword.
“Who’s this we’re listening to?” she asks.
“Julianna Barwick, a singer out of Brooklyn. Found her on some pay per download site,” I answer.
“You didn’t find her on Pitchfork, as with most things?” she counters.
“No, but eventually they jumped all over her. Which is cool I guess. It’s what you want if you’re making music these days. By the way, I don’t find most of my stuff on Pitchfork.”
“I like her. Her material reminds me of Popol Vuh off the Aguirre soundtrack,” she says as she searches for something to wear.
“Yeah, it does, but even better if you ask me,” I respond, slipping in a look above my crossword paper.
“Are you still going to work tonight?” she asks.
“Yup, you know how it is,” I answer.
“One of these days you got to tell me what you do. You can’t keep up this mystery forever…”

Back in my car, I notice I’ve successfully shook off the cops while driving myself deep into the desert’s heart…a place for no man. I stop the vehicle, turn the radio up, and take a sit on its hood. The song “Bode” comes on and I take in my surroundings. I stare out onto the desert plateau and watch the sun murder the skies red as it plunges into the dusk. The sweeping sustained mantra of the song eases the pain of this measured astrological kill. The DJ comes back on.
“I got to hand it to you Vilar, you shook them off good. With my little CB radio here at the station, I can tell you them coppers have no idea where you at. I know you’re hiding somewhere though… but the question now is… how long do you stay out there? We’re pulling for you, just keep a warm blanket close by…”

Back at the Motel 6, I watch her spread the blanket back on the bed. “You know there’s people who get paid to do that sort of thing,” I tell her.
“No matter. Just a frequent habit,” she says. “I’m really digging this Julianna Barwick more and more. What’s this song playing now?”
“It’s called ‘Choose.’”
“You know who else she sounds like? She reminds me of Enya.”
“Yeah—like a hipper version of Enya. Some people may find that comparison repulsing, some maybe not. It’s hard to know nowadays.” I finish off the last of the crossword. A short pause lies between us.
“Do you really have to go?” she asks.
“Yeah, I got to go meet someone. I told you,” I answer.
“When are you gonna let me know?”
“I’ll tell you about my job some time.”
“No. That’s not what I mean,” she says, as she slowly draws the curtains down and turns to face me.


Back in the desert, night has struck and coldness starts to take hold. The opening piano refrain of “Anjos” plays on the radio while I lay down and gaze at the stars for a moment. The DJ returns and chimes in over the song.
“Hey, Vilar, haven’t heard from you in a while. I hope you’re keeping those scorpions company. Word has it they don’t offer lifetime subscriptions in the place you at, so you best be getting back into the game now. You can beat the police, you can beat the road, and you can even beat the clock…but you can’t beat the desert.”
“Go to hell,” I respond as I roll off the hood of the Dodge, kick the remaining dirt from my boots, and get back in the driver’s seat. I start the engine and peel it forward to the road. With “Anjos” still playing on the radio, I look for the angel in the sky’s constellations to help find my way back. I start to coast into a vision of last night’s encounter…

I meet my contact Rodrigo by the river’s end.
“Eh, Roberto! Tudo bem?” Rodrigo addresses me.
“Tudo bem. Que pasa?” We exchange our special handshake.
“Well, the boss has got a special job for you,” Rodrigo says as he hands me an unmarked envelope. “Take a look. Looks like someone saw something they shouldn’t have, which can be messy for us. It’s a shit job but you know how it is, right? You got 24 hours.” I stand there, staring into the photograph for a while. Rodrigo says as he snaps me out of it. “Hey man? You OK? You know her?”
“No, it’ s cool.” I slip the photograph into my pocket. “I got it covered. Can I borrow your Dodge?”

The roar of the law enforcement’s helicopter shakes me out of my stupor as I race towards the morning sun. The ranks of the land vehicles have swelled tenfold since my last cigarette pack and I still have a carton to go. The radio is on and my DJ is still with me.
“Yes! Yes! Yes! You go, Big V! You out-race those blue Nazis! You don’t give up and let them catch you! No way, Jose, no way, you go for the prize, man, you go for it! Ha ha ha ha…all right, this is too much fun. I think we got to drop one more for the soul mobile before I go in for a break. So here’s a hymn for you, bro, called ‘Sunlight, Heaven’ by Ms. Barwick. Drive forth and let that camino del sol be your guide. Radio on and godspeed.”
With the song fueling my ride and the police closing in on me, I can see clear as the new day set forth, the path laid ahead. And as sure as I am aware of that incoming road block set up at mile’s end, I am certain now of what words can be said from one to another while under the veil of darkness in a small room near the edge of night. Without hesitation and without doubt. The true speed of will.

Weird Shit with Kent Davies – Snacks and Weird Werewolf Shit

By Kent Davies

movieIt’s almost Halloween again! Without a doubt, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Instead of playing that tired K-Mart haunted house soundtrack, why don’t you check out a monster movie music blog that can’t be beat? Dwrayger Dungeon presents: Monster Movie Music and More, a site where hosts Eegah!! and Tabonga! sift through hundreds of old-time sound clips from obscure and classic monster movies. From cold-war inspired giant-monster flicks like THEM! to the biker horror trash like Werewolves on Wheels, the site offers a detailed summary with loads of weird, campy sound clips loaded with hilarious dialogue. While the majority of music featured on the site consists of the suspenseful scores that accompany each film, there are also a few rockin’ numbers from the rockin’ clubs, juke joints and teen beach parties featured in some of the films. The proprietors of Monster Movie Music and More say it’s all in the name of fun and historical education, and “in an effort to keep bad taste alive forever!!!” Help keep bad-taste and weird shit alive and check it out at monstermoviemusic.blogspot.com.


wsIn other blog-related developments: originating from the Jay-Z line “No room service/ just snacks and shit,” Snacks and Shit (www.snacksandshit.com) is a site dedicated to revealing rap and hip hop’s most stupefied, absurd and ridiculous lyrics. Among the 400 great lines highlighting forced metaphors, dumbfounding misogyny and an unnatural obsession with excrement, it was hard to narrow down some favourites. The lines vary from the devastatingly juvenile (such as Arab guesting in Soulja Boy’s track  “Yahhhh,” where he fronts, “So get up out my face/ you doo-doo-head dummy”) to typical, topical Chamillionaire with the line “BRRRRRAT BRRRRAT… Twitter ’dat,” in “Internet Thugs Attack.” Then there is the painfully honest Camp Lo coming clean when he says “scored like 10 on my I.Q. test” on “Black Nostaljack.” And you can’t forget Kanye West, who struggles with basic arithmetic when utters the line, “I live by two words/ ‘Fuck you, pay me.’” Not to be outdone, Common lays down the astonishingly grammatically-challenged track “I Poke Her Face,” which includes the line “man, her was gooder than a music.” Rick Ross overdoses on the plural form with “I fucks pianos” (“Pushing Keys”). Some lines are just mystifying. Young Dro goes, “Know a nigga healthy/ ‘cause my Cutlass look like carrot juice” and Kool Keith drops, “I watch your mailbox like Vietnam guerrilla warfare.” Worse still, some lies are just gross: “Diarrhea on you niggas like Niagara Falls” (Gorilla Zoe). Much like the writers of the blog, I’m a fan of some of these rap artists, but the cultural droppings of Snacks and Shit reminds fans and non-fans alike that despite money, success and serious scary gangster shit, sometimes these guys can be as ridiculous and brainless as the rich white suburban kids that try and emulate them. Now only if a blog could do the same for hipster rockstars.

The 2009 WCMAs

Stylus heads to Brandon, avoids fights

By Michael Elves

They say you can never really go home again, but since Brandon hosted this year’s Western Canadian Music Awards, I returned to the Wheat City—where I haven’t lived for over a decade, but where I spent my formative years—to take in the sights and sounds at showcases and sessions held during the weekend of September 17-20.
While much of Brandon remains the same as when I left, there have certainly been changes in the intervening years; 18th Street North now looks like Kenaston at McGillivray, with its big-box stores replacing what was once a great tobogganing hill. The Keystone Centre has been re-branded the Westman Communications Group Place and fused to Canad Inns like a conjoined twin.

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Chad VanGaalen

By Jonathan Dyck

Chad VanGaalen may be many things to many people, but one thing is certain: he embodies the do-it-yourself aesthetic at every imaginable level. From self-production and designing his album artwork to building instruments and animating his own music videos, it’s difficult to think of something VanGaalen isn’t good at. Now, after three diverse albums of homespun folk rock, the Polaris Prize-nominated Albertan has released his electronic side project, Snow Blindness is Crystal Antz, under the moniker Black Mold (on the Calgary-based label Flemish Eye). Stylus caught up with Chad VanGaalen to discuss his musical alter-ego, his artwork, and why it’s unlikely that he’ll be invited back to perform at the Winnipeg Folk Festival any time soon.

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Right Through

By Taylor Burgess

It isn’t uncommon for young bands to be some combination of reckless and precise, but Winnipeg indie quartet Right Through seems to be the inverse of metal and hardcore bands, opting for the lo-fi sounds of ’90s indie rock instead. Rather than worrying about specific scales, these boys worry about harmonies and rocking hard.

The band started about two and a half years ago when Jesse Hill, 19, was playing in the Fo!ps, and Cole Woods, 18, and Rob Gardiner, 18, were in the Playing Cards.

Over a coffee in the Exchange on a soon-to-be bitter autumn evening, Jesse said, “We played shows with each other, and then we became friends, and we started jamming.”

Woods added, “And then Rob and I have been friends for a long time, been playing together in bands for a long time.”

“Well, he was just Rob’s brother,” said bassist Alan Gardiner, 16. We all cracked up.

Tease each other as they might, they still have faith in each other. Jesse said, “If I’m stuck with a song, that’s like the perfect time to bring it to Right Through, because I’m really confident in these guys’ abilities to take something I have and make it way better.” They can most definitely read each other, and when they play, they’re in the same mind-space. I picture them swinging their arms and pounding their guitars among mostly barren trees and snow-dusted ground , much like a world presented in their promo photos.

They’re careful not to–or perhaps it never even crossed their minds to–name-drop any influences, but their brand of loud-quiet-loud indie rock is somewhere between Pavement and post-rock, limited to two guitars, one bass and a drum kit.

Late in October, the band will be releasing their first full length album, titled the sun hot. They recorded it themselves, with the help of Jesse’s brother, getting all of the instruments done in a couple of days, but then doing the vocals over a much longer stretch–the next six months.

It was quite vexing for Jesse. “I’m a pretty big perfectionist, so just the fact that I was on my own recording my vocals, over and over again, I got really obsessive about it… It was just really stressful. And it probably would’ve been less stressful if… uh… we were in…”

“In a real studio?” Cole offers.

The CD release will be on October 23 at Crescent Fort Rouge United Church, a venue the band plays frequently. If you’ve never been there, you should also know it’s one of the better venues in the city. The sound carries like a dream, full and dramatic, and always compliments Right Through’s drastic shifts in dynamics, from slow strums and muttering to gut-wrenching and screaming. As Hill says, “We try to be as quiet as we try to be loud.”

Live at the West End

By Jenny Henkelman

As the weather starts pushing Winnipeggers back indoors for the winter, a new televised concert series is set to bring live, local music to your home television set. Live at the West End captures six performances by Manitoba-based acts and is the brainchild of Johnny Marlow. He’s been a record store owner and an indie label rep. Now he’s working in a new venue: on-demand TV.

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Cuff the Duke


By Sabrina Carnevale

Cuff the Duke hail from Oshawa, Ontario, but the band is anything but small town. They’ve been categorized into the almighty alt-country niche, but don’t let that fool you as their versatility extends beyond fixed music genres.

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Jackpine – Harkening Back, Looking Forward


By Michael Elves

Though the members of Jackpine may scoff at the notion of being a super-group, they’re not above using the tag to help promote their new album, Brand New Good Old Days. “The whole idea of a super-group is based on the fact that people know and care about our other work, and they don’t. Well except maybe about Jaxon’s,” says Sean Buchanan with a chuckle.

Jackpine’s origins aren’t rooted in promoting the individual parts, even though Jaxon Haldane plays with the D. Rangers and Buchanan is the principal singer and songwriter for the Western States. In the same way that super-groups like Broken Social Scene and the New Pornographers came together, the four members of Jackpine joined up looking to let off some steam and write and record for fun, free of the expectations of their individual pursuits.

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