Rob Vilar’s Story Time – A Place to Bury Strangers

A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERS - Exploding Head (Mute Records)
A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERS - Exploding Head (Mute Records)

By Rob Vilar

“The Gravitron is one of the best thrill rides on the midway.  With the use of centrifugal force, the super spinning motion lifts riders off the floor for a feeling of weightlessness.” –

A carnal love story set in a carnival, present day.

With my water pistol at my side, I wait for the siren’s call to commence the contest. I stare at the clown target. With the shrill ring of the siren to initiate the bout, I immediately draw my pistol and discharge fully onto the target with all the poise and rigour I can muster in this defining moment of carnival games. At the end, when it is all done, I stand there, drenched in the autumn night’s air. The carnie leans over his counter and says to me, “Sorry son, looks like you’ve come in last.” I then hear a familiar voice.

“Nice try sport. Maybe you should give it another go?”

I turn around and there she is—black jacket, black pants, white shoes, and dark shades, smacking her bubble gum. Baby’s in black.

“Sorry I didn’t win you a fucking bear,” I reply, pulling myself together.

“No matter. I’m getting a little anxious here. What you say we go for a ride?” She points to the midway.

I take a few steps towards her, seize her hand, and say, “Let’s go.”

We enter the midway grounds and we’re immediately hit by an onslaught of glitter and din of noise.

“Makes you blind,” she whispers.

We slog through the throngs of nervous parents and idling thrill addicts. We make our way past the mirrored halls, horror houses, and roller coasters to… the starship. Silver and loaded with jewels, it’s lit above with a sign that reads “GRAVITRON.” We watch as it decelerates to a gradual stop and opens its door, emancipating a fog of holiness into the night. She then breaks from me, fires her cigarette, and asks, “Blast off?”

“Space is the place, babe,” I answer and we enter the starship.

Once inside the intergalactic spindle, we notice a DJ sitting at the black hole centre of the ship. Heavily bearded with a dark pair of sunglasses, he leans into his microphone.

“Fellow travellers, take your positions… for tonight’s voyage you will be taken to the stars. There will are no refunds. There will be no looking back. The controls are set to the centre of your soul and the new A Place to Bury Strangers joint Exploding Head is set to spin.”

As we take to our individual seats, the opening psychocandy guitar riff of “Deadbeat” initiates the starship’s revolution. With a burning surge of distortion ripping into the cabin, we begin to feel gravity’s pull. As the drone intensifies, a feeling of weightlessness subverts itself under our feet and we begin to rise. We lift higher and higher with each passing spin, until when we hit the top; then the DJ eases the throttle and mixes into the next track, “Lost Feeling.”  The interior lights twinkle on, and it’s heaven. The DJ looks at us and knows he’s got us exactly where he wants us. I notice her singing along. “The feeling is gone, the feeling is gone.”

“I take it you’ve heard this before?” I ask.

“I have, and on vinyl, no less. I don’t go for cheap.”

The DJ goes into a new track, “In Your Heart,” and the ship’s lighting goes from soft to strobe, the perfect prescription. I close my eyes and take in the moment. The song revolves and blurs as images of her smear the foreground of my mind. My rib cage tenses up as I feel my heartbeat rubbing up against the bone. I break into a slow sweat, open my eyes, and then turn to face her. She looks at me and says, “It’s a real shame. I want to touch you, but I can’t.”

“I know what you mean,” I respond. “It’s like when I DJ for the kids, sometimes. They want to touch each other, but somehow, they can’t.”

“How does a situation like this get amended?” she asks.

“DJ’s got to drop it,” I reply.

The starship’s DJ drops “Ego Death,” which kills the BPMs, slows the starship down, and loosens our joints up as we peel ourselves out of our seats and tumble to the floor. We lie there, bruised and sweaty, until she rolls me over onto my backside. She crawls on top of me, readjusts her shades, goes into her purse, and pulls out a pair of plastic fangs. With guitars heated for re-entry and fangs in place, she lunges for my shoulder. A spurt of blood shoots to the moon.

We rest there in a state of bliss, the starship’s deckplates covered in an ever-expanding pool of my blood. It’s only then that I realize that rock ’n’ roll isn’t dead—it just goes round and round…



Weird Shit with Kent Davies – The Weirdos of Winterband

By Kent Davies

wbLike some kind of ZZ Top fundamentalist doppelganger, Winterband is a bearded Apostolic Pentecostal Christian rock band like no other. Pastor Steve Winter and his son Philip, along with convicts Bobo on bass and Hayseed guitar (the band is part of their work release program), bring a potent, catchy dose of Catholic-hating, sexist, pro-life blues rock that will make you bob and shake your head at the same time. While their music might be progressive, their views are nothing but regressive, creating a considerable WTF? reaction in those who dare to witness the anomaly that is Winterband. Their site features dozens of low-budget rock videos spreading Winter’s dogmatic—and sometimes frightening—worldview. Songs include: “Where Babies Come From,” “Jesus Ain’t No Hippie,” “God Squad” and “Shame, Shame, Shame,” which laments the very serious matter of women speaking in church. The band’s latest release, “Won’t Be Long,” is described by Winter as “a track to entertain the masses and help souls escape the snare of the devil and his polytheistic false-Christianity.” The site also includes insane tirades on the “false-Christian scum” who run (formerly GodTube) which cancelled Winterband’s account due to the incendiary song and video “Don’t Diss Mohammed,” where Winter does nothing but diss Mohammed. To add to the bewildering nature of Winterband they have also have an eight minute epic fantasy rock number entitled “Jesus Died and Went to Hell,” which has a chorus that almost revels in the death of Jesus. All the songs are copyrighted and not to be reproduced because, as Pastor Winter says, copyright laws are held by “various governments with huge armies and bombs and stuff so don’t do anything you shouldn’t.” Other parts of the site include pictures with Winterband fans Senator Zell Miller and former Motown drummer Pete Joyner. Somehow I’m thinking that Joyner and the senator should have reconsidered taking those pictures. (

Zell Miller and drummer Philip
Zell Miller and drummer Philip


Cruisin’ to Bruise
By Sabrina Carnevale
Dragonette singer/songwriter Martina Sorbara epitomizes the almighty frontwoman role by combining a strong undercurrent of sex and swagger with a slinky, flirtatious style. And keeping true to the rock ‘n’ roll way of life, her music career is reminiscent to a string of sexually-charged relationships—the singer has been involved in numerous projects, both on her own and in group settings.

But this time, she’s promoting Dragonette’s sophomore release. And in true Sorbara fashion, she’s doing it while sporting some pretty fantastic spandex.

Continue reading “Dragonette”

The F-Holes

Pluckin’ Away

By Sarah Petz

fholesThere aren’t a lot of bands who can hop from playing a gig in the dingy nonchalance of the Times Change(d) to a children’s festival, or from a wedding reception to a university restaurant. But local band the F-Holes, who have a versatile sound that could be called jazz or blues as much as it could be country or swing, are doing just that. Continue reading “The F-Holes”

Miesha and the Spanks

Love and Spitfire

By Kent Davies

mieshaFrom the ashes of Alberta punk act Bogart comes a deadly duo of potent garage rock and country soul. The combination of Miesha Louie’s fearsome guitar work and earnest, heartbreaking cries, combined with the hammering drums of Justin Landstorfer, is something of a Canadian rock ’n’ roll revelation. Tackling issues of personal loss, love and lust, they bring a level honesty that lends itself to the ferocity of their approach. Their live garage-rock confessions have already garnered quite the following their hometown of Calgary. Now the duo is hitting the top 20 on the Canadian college charts and receiving positive reviews for their first ful-length, MMMade for Me, just released on Winnipeg label Transistor 66. Stylus caught up with Miesha Louie before their Albert gig at the halfway point of their lengthy coast-to-coast tour. Continue reading “Miesha and the Spanks”

You Say Party! We Say Die!

From Love to Hate and Back Again
By Taylor Burgess

They’ve only just released their third full-length, XXXX, but it’s safe to say that You Say Party! We Say Die! will forever live on in our collective yspwsd_xxxx_1Canadian consciousness. Yes, there have been the rowdy shows at the now-closed Collective Cabaret, and equally rowdy shows at the Royal Albert, with lead singer Becky Ninkovic making everyone twist and clap and yell “Cold Hands! Hot Bodies!” But Canadian bands, even inciting ones, do come and go. YSP!’s legend has so much more attitude than that.
First, there was the incident at the Canada-U.S. border in 2006, where they matched wits with officials. The Vancouver five-piece had a major U.S. tour booked, starting in Seattle, but they hadn’t received the necessary paperwork in the mail by the night of the first show, so they approached the border, planning to use booked recording time in L.A. as their excuse for crossing. The border officials checked online and came up with the band’s tour dates. YSP! WSD! explained that they had planned to cancel them, but hadn’t yet. Always looking to thwart criminal masterminds like this dance-punk band, the crafty border officials called the Seattle venue, which enthusiastically replied that the band was most certainly playing that night.

Continue reading “You Say Party! We Say Die!”

Tyondai Braxton – Central Market

Tyondai-BraxtonWhen Braxton isn’t completely rewriting the math-rock playbook in Battles, he’s busy composing music for an orchestra and, well, playing with himself. As a solo artist, Braxton creates music using live loops. Handling all the instrumentation and vocal duties, Braxton’s solo work is at once complex, colorful and experimental. Central Market sees Braxton move away from a strictly loop-based, 100 percent Braxton-performed outing, to seven tracks composed for New York City’s Wordless City Orchestra. The combination of Braxton’s electronic tendencies and the acoustic element of the Orchestra makes for a record that is multi-dimensional and varied yet sonically cohesive. The first few tracks are purely cinematic—if the film imagined is a twisted, Technicolor children’s cartoon that takes place on the rings of Saturn. Strings swoop and swirl amidst marching, syncopated percussion, constantly shifting melodic motifs, jagged loops and Braxton’s trademark, pitch-shifted “munchkin” vocals. It sounds bizarre, and it is. Yet despite the seemingly chaotic shards of instrumentation within this album, Central Market is an impossibly interesting, engaging and enjoyable listen. (Warp Records, Curran Faris

Bloodshot Bill – Git High Tonite!

bloodshot-billCombining country twang, garage fuzz, and rockabilly squeak, Bloodshot Bill manages to make vintage sound new in Git High Tonite! Montreal’s answer to Hasil Adkins, the one-man band sensation returns with 12 greasy, rockin’ numbers guaranteed to get you moving. Combining crazy barely audible Trashmen-esque voicework, jingly-jangly guitars, and raw classic rockabilly instrumentation, Bloodshot has perfected a sound very few can match. Standout tracks include “Leave Me Alone,” “Outta the Rain” and a great Steve Alaimo cover “She’s My Baby.” The album closes out with a devastating rockabilly ballad “Oh Honey Doll Baby Doll” and a fantastic acoustic bonus track. (Transistor 66, Kent Davies

BLK JKS – After Robots

blk-jksBLK JKS hail from South Africa and sing in English, Zulu and Xhosa. They’ve fused together an ambitious rock record from an array of genres. Most striking on the album is the swooping brass and bombastic guitar solos, sometimes reminiscent of Frog Eyes’ best instrumentation and, at other times, the punch-work of Spoon. BLK JKS are often compared by the press to TV on the Radio; the resemblance, particularly in the percussion, is hard to miss. Yet After Robots is cohesive and idiosyncratic enough to resist being pigeonholed. All told, it’s a good album by an ambitious group that shows flashes of excellence in songs like “Skeleton” and “Lakeside.” (Secretly Canadian, Paul Beriault

Black Heart Procession – Six

black-heart-processionWhile I don’t believe any of their subsequent albums have rivaled their 2002 album Amore del Tropico (Tropics of Love), the Black Heart Procession have nonetheless made a valiant effort to reach for those heights. Returning to the counting scheme of their first three records, the San Diego band also retains the foreboding tone they’ve honed through all their prior recordings—atmospheric strings, ominous, impassioned vocals and rumbling bass, all supporting vocalist Paulo Zappoli’s dark tales. Love, death and the intersection between the two have long been lyrical tropes for the Black Heart Procession, and Six finds them digging fresh holes in the same graveyard. “When You Finish Me” speaks of being buried by a lover and “Wasteland” finds the protagonist hearing “ghosts calling me back to the grave.” Things don’t end in the ground though, as characters pursue their lovers through “Heaven and Hell” and burn in flames (“All My Steps”). Clearly this isn’t a voyage for the faint of heart and neither is an album by the Black Heart Procession—though you’d expect nothing less considering their moniker and their catalogue. This is a bleak and troubled listen, but there’s a dark beauty buried in its heart. (Temporary Residence, Michael Elves