Ian La Rue and the Condor – Small Chest Muscles, Huge Wingspan

By Jenny Henkelman

Photo by Andrew Workman
Photo by Andrew Workman

“I’m cooking on the tour,” Matt Magura announces between bites of his “Little Tadpole” breakfast at the Toad in the Hole on a Saturday afternoon. “I’ve got a Magic Bullet and a butane stove. I’m going to make fucking curry wraps. Smoothies every morning!” Bassist Louis Levèsque Coté is agreeable to the notion; he and Ian La Rue start discussing the possibility of getting an inverter so that the Magic Bullet and possibly a rice cooker could be operated while the van is in motion.

This kind of creativity is surely inevitable when you have seasoned musicians looking forward to a tour. These guys have been around. When Ian La Rue and the Condor (drummer Magura, Coté, and guitarist Andrew Workman) list their other current and previous bands, the lists are long and overlapping. La Rue and Coté have both done stints in Boats and the Paperbacks, for instance. Workman has played in everything from the Horribly Awfuls to Cone Five.

But this is the first time this particular combination has come about, and that, Coté says, is all because of La Rue. “The Condor wouldn’t be a band outside of Ian,” he says. For La Rue, though, having the Condor behind him is a dream come true. “I’ve been looking forward to making a full band record for my whole life. This is it—kinda like the pinnacle of my career,” he says of the new record, titled A History in Layers. “It was a big move on a couple levels, because I always recorded my own stuff, played all my own stuff. So this is the first time I’ve let someone else record it.”

Continue reading “Ian La Rue and the Condor – Small Chest Muscles, Huge Wingspan”

J.R. Hill Exists; Your Argument Is Invalid

By Taylor Burgess


In his disorderly Wolseley basement named the Mortfell Oktorium Studio, J.R. Hill has been focusing on recording and playing shows here in Winnipeg. “I don’t really wanna go on tour again unless I know that I won’t lose thousands of dollars, because I can’t afford it,” he said.

Guitar pedals, a stuffed monkey, a pink flamingo, cardboard houses and utter amounts of crap looked like they were going to fall off the tin shelves at any minute. “Like in the summer, I lost, like 1,500 bucks. I just finished paying it off last month.” Continue reading “J.R. Hill Exists; Your Argument Is Invalid”

The Paperbacks – Doubling Up

By Michael Elves

While reports of the music industry’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, the more recent prognosis is that the full-length album is dead (or at least dying). Quickly disseminated and digested as MP3 singles and the shortened attention span of the Twitterverse have created a (not so) perfect storm where albums are given short shrift.
So, local act the Paperbacks chose to follow up their 2007 full-length, An Illusion Against Death, with a double-album.

Continue reading “The Paperbacks – Doubling Up”

Review: Cocktail Hostages – Ransom EP

Ransom EP
cocktail-hostages-ransom-epAlthough they are just beginning to establish themselves, local act Cocktail Hostages have found a niche in the already-crowded hard rock scene. Their Ransom EP features tracks more reminiscent of the glory days of dark, brooding grunge than the rise of the Nickelback and their doppelgangers. The EP starts with “Crawl,” a catchy, power chord-heavy hard rock number before settling into a couple steady atmospheric tracks. “In the Woods” is more appealing than the lead-off cut, with frontman Roger Moufiler’s deep voice circling around Eastern-sounding guitar riffs. The final track is the EP’s strongest. No one can deny the hypnotic power and ominous charm of “Midnight City,” pulsating towards the disc’s fiery conclusion. (Independent, www.myspace.com/cocktailhostages) Kent Davies

Label Profile – Midori Records

midoriIn the documentary People Who Do Noise, one noise musician says that the genre has “stripped all of the musicality from music.” But does that make it any less of an experience to catch one of Winnipeg label Midori Records’ acts live when the rare opportunity arises? Hell, no. The experience is all they’re concerned about. Sigmund just played an improv set at Element Sircus, horrifically backing for a self-mutilator. In the summer, Krakk sometimes lays all their electronic gear on the street and blasts the ears and minds of passers-by in guerrilla shows. And a couple years ago, label owner Fletcher Pratt played at Send + Receive festival, to recreate sounds from his Mind Gunk series. Stylus recently met with Pratt, who is also a member of Krakk and Sigmund, to ask a couple of label-related questions.

Stylus: How did Midori Records start?
Fletcher Pratt:
In 2003, I was jamming with a couple of guys in a band called Roof Bunny, and I just recorded and mixed it. Eric Gallipo, he was one of the guys in the trio, he was a music school grad, and he got into noise music—and Roof Bunny was a trio, and the other guy graduated from music school too, and I thought that it was ironic. We jammed different noise, like a lot of rhythmic noise, and a lot of drone. But I had these recordings, and I didn’t know what to do with them.

Stylus: How many releases does Midori Records have?
Fifty-five, although the label only started in ’04. But that has to do with quality control, even if it’s just 20 copies that I’m releasing. It’s a cross between half of my own projects, when I can be critical as I want, and when people send songs into me. Most of the time it’s really good, but sometimes I have to say, “You need to redo this track, or that track.”

Stylus: What’s the furthest you’ve been sent songs from?
I received some from Vluba, they’re an Argentina duo, and I did 15 copies of their record.

Stylus: And how does everyone find each other?
Well I guess the short answer for that is the Internet. A good way to get a dose of a label is to do mail trades, contact a label and send five releases to each other.

Stylus: What’s the Winnipeg noise scene like?
It has blossomed a little bit, but it’s only something like five guys, and there isn’t much of one, they do it in their basement. But it’s a good time. [On Midori] there’s Sigmund, Krakk, and my Fletcher Pratt Mind Gunk series. And Auntie Dada—but I heard there was some drama there. And lately there’s been a couple other guys who have been starting up their own label—White Dog, that’s Chris Jacques, and Cole Peters who plays under Gomeisa. They’ve just started putting tapes out. [Their label is called Prairie Fire Tapes –Ed.] So it seems to come in waves of inspiration.

Stylus: How often do you play live?
Only once every couple of months. We do those guerrilla shows a couple times a year, and those are really haphazard, but people always show up. They seem to bring people out of the woodwork a little.

Visit Midori online at www.myspace.com/midorirec

Review: Zrada Cultural Academy

Zrada Cultural Academy
zradaFormed in 2005, local act Zrada Cultural Academy is an earth-shattering mix of traditional Ukrainian folk, metal, ska and punk rock. Held together by soulful Balkan and Slavic melodies leading into epic guitar shreds, Zrada’s album is 16 tracks of harmonious majesty, intricately crafted with raucous rock attitude. Beginning with the introductory question, “What Was Born In…?” Zrada moves into “Give Me Liquor,” a lament about excess. Songs like “Dark Skies” and “Quick Waters” are melodically grandiose, while songs like “Parade” and “In the Woods is a Path” are fantastic forays into fantasy metal. One of the best cuts “The Young Writer” begins with a punk rock opening before diving into a funk section, all the while held together with traditional dance sensibilities. Although the entire album is entirely in Ukrainian, you don’t have to have a command of the Slavic language to enjoy it immensely. Mark my words, this album is absolutely incredible and a fitting testament to Winnipeg’s incredible music scene and rich Ukrainian history. (Independent, www.zradamusic.com) Kent Davies

Review: the Rowdymen – Gas, Liquor & Fireworks

Gas, Liquor & Fireworks
rowdymen1After a lengthy hiatus, the return of guitarist/vocalist Jason Allen signaled the return of Winnipeg roots-rockabilly staple the Rowdymen. Their latest kicks off in classic rockabilly fashion with “Johnny Rumble,” a twangy up-tempo number that gives it a ton of gas, and tells the story of a boy “born with a guitar in his hands.” Other numbers, like “Ode to Possum” and “Road Hard,” display some liquored country-roots sensibilities with a little help from one of the best voices in Winnipeg, Joanne Rodriguez (Angry Dragons, American Flamewhip). Songs like “All Right Baby” add some vintage swing to the mix. The album ends with some fireworks courtesy of a couple great rockabilly numbers written by vocalist/drummer Ken McMahon. Much like in real life, Gas, Liquor & Fireworks amounts to a fun rockin’ time. (Transistor 66, www.myspace.com/therowdymen) Kent Davies

Review: the Mission Light – Hearts for City Limits

Hearts for City Limits

the mission lightHearts for City Limits
is an accomplished debut from Winnipeg pop/folk act the Mission Light. Travelling is a theme of the record, with song titles like “Through These Streets,” “A Highway Song” and “Homecoming.” These ten tracks come courtesy of a highly talented group of musicians, superbly produced by Gemini Award-winning producer/engineer Norman Dugas (Leaderhouse, Daniel ROA) and mixed and mastered by Kyle Sierens (Sick City, Common Lives). Formerly known as the Guy Abraham band, which was named after its SOCAN Award-winning singer-songwriter, the group has a warm, acoustic flare, combining soft melodies, (partly due to the very talented Saya Gahungu on violin) with large, bold vocals. The record incorporates not only percussion and guitars, but also features pianos and organs, and it showcases both the group’s artistic and musical talents. The Duhks’ Sarah Dugas makes an appearance on “A Highway Song,” along with Dust Rhinos’ Dale Brown, who adds additional violin on “So Much More” and “Breakdown in the Afterglow.” Other Duhks Cristian Dugas and Scott Senior have also recently contributed to some upcoming tracks. With reflective and heartfelt songs that hold a creative edge, these local musicians are well on their way to making a name for themselves. (Independent, www.themissionlight.com) Sabrina Carnevale

Review: Patrick Keenan – Washed Out Roads

Washed Out Roads

Washed Out Roads
wasn’t the easiest album to make, according to local singer-songwriter Patrick Keenan. Without getting into too much detail, there were delays, complications, ransoms, and enough frustration and heartbreak to base another album on. However, after a long, frustrating two-year journey, Keenan’s latest album has come to fruition. The bittersweet, toe-tapping rock number “Pill Store” kicks off the album on a high note before settling down with a few measured tunes including “Washed Out Roads,” which features Keenan lamenting being caught in failure of society. Other notable tracks include the great opus “Tobacco,” which sounds reminiscent of Ben Folds, and road-trip song “Roof-Rack Attack.” Keenan’s clever lyrics and catchy melodies are backed by band members Doug Darling and Jeff Tetrault as well an army of guests including local music staple Mike Petkau. Even if this wasn’t the mix Keenan had envisioned, it’s still a pretty great one. (Friendly Fire, www.myspace.com/patrickkeenan) Kent Davies

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”