Tag Archives: Canada

Snotty Nose Rez Kids Are Laying the Groundwork for Future Generations

Snotty Nose Rez Kids

Trapline
, the new record from the Haisla Nation hip-hop duo Snotty Nose Rez Kids, begins with the sound of crackling fire and a voice speaking over a haunting synth patch: “The culture of the Haisla is built on respect. Respect for the land, the air, the water, the animals, and each other. The wa’wais is a track of land; today it’s known as a trapline. That wa’wais is owned by a clan member. The wa’wais boundaries are from sea to the mountaintops. The wa’wais will be protected for future generations. We own only the responsibility to protect the land, the sea, and the air, and all that live within it, for future generations.” 

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How Radio Show Brave New Waves Helped Build Canada’s Underground Scene

Brand New Waves

Canadian media personality Brent Bambury recalls listening to the radio show Brave New Waves one night in 1984, and hearing what started as an intellectual chat with two French separatist filmmakers. It quickly changed gears when Katrina Leskanich, singer of the British-American new wave band Katrina and the Waves, dropped by the studio mid-interview and joined the conversation.

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For Northern Haze, Indigenous Rock Has Become a Family Affair

Northern Haze

It’s Friday night in Iqaluit, and it seems like the entire city is at the local Legion. Iqaluit, nestled on the shore of Frobisher Bay, is the capital city of Nunavut, one of three territories in Canada’s far north. With close to 8,000 residents, it’s home to nearly a quarter of the territory’s widely-dispersed population. It’s steak night at Legion (a big draw in and of itself), but the bar is humming with more than the usual excitement. Suddenly, the packed room erupts with cheers and hollers as people flock to the door. After a few moments, the reason for the pandemonium becomes clear: the musicians of Northern Haze had arrived.

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Winnipeg’s KEN Mode are in it for the Long Haul

Ken Mode

Photos by Scott Kinkade

It’s been a long and noisy road for KEN mode. The band was formed in 1999 by brothers Jesse and Shane Matthewson (guitar/vocals and drums respectively) in Winnipeg, Manitoba, when they were barely out of high school. The original lineup was filled out by Darryl Laxdal, who would be the first in a long line of seven bass players.  KEN mode have always been unique, blending the harsh nihilism of noise rock bands like Unsane, Big Black and Today is the Day with the power and intensity of metallic hardcore. The band have been consistently labeled as “innovators” by both critics and fans, acclaim that usually creates a pressure to be constantly pushing toward ‘Something New.’ That kind of scrutiny has caused legions of other bands to fall apart, but KEN mode have stayed the course, largely due to the strong bond between brothers Jesse and Shane.

KEN mode may have changed labels—and bassists—in the intervening years, but they’ve never flagged in their dedication to their fans, their challenging music, or their desire to take a “creative outsider” approach. Their upcoming EP, Nerve, is a fascinating collection of older material (outtakes from the Success recording sessions with Steve Albini in 2014, demos, and so forth)—fan service of the best kind.

The name KEN mode comes from a reference made by Henry Rollins about the emotional intensity developed during Black Flag’s My War days. It stands for “Kill Everyone Now mode”—an apt tag for a band of teenage misfits making “Mammoth metallic noise,” as the Matthewsons have described their music.

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Pianist Jean-Michel Blais on Making the Most of a Once In A Lifetime Opportunity

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Jean-Michel Blais

Often when people try to explain instrumental music, they end up describing a scene in a film that the composition might soundtrack. It’s a curious tendency; left without lyrics to deconstruct, our only option is to jump between senses. It’s easy to wonder if that habit is strange or insulting to a musician like Jean-Michel Blais, whose debut album Il–a vast, warm, and generous solo piano record—has so much to say without using words.

Blais was discovered at age 31 by the influential Canadian label Arts & Crafts, who convinced him to put his teaching career on hold in order to pursue music full time. He was plucked out of relative obscurity, but when he talks about his relationship to his own music, even he reverts to visual imagery. “To me it’s about closing your eyes,” he says via telephone from his studio in Montreal. “It just snowed here yesterday for the first time, and that’s the feeling that’s in the music.”

We spoke with Blais about his whirlwind of a year, why he packed up and left for Guatemala, and how he almost missed a grand opportunity.

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Tracy McNeil’s North American Sound Settles in Australia

Tracy McNeil

Canadian singer-songwriter Tracy McNeil has journeyed far from home the past eight years, settling eventually in Melbourne, Australia. Her accent reflects that shuffling: her voice is a blend of drawn-out Canadian vowels and traces of an Australian lilt, resulting in a curious sound all her own. Like her voice, McNeil’s roots-driven blend of rock and folk-pop also defies easy categorization. Thanks to her travels and her curious ear, McNeil’s songs are host to a multitude of musical and geographic influences, all of them grounded in a kind of rustic Americana.

Her fourth album, Thieves, nods to the Laurel Canyon sound—which is all the more striking given the distance that exists between Melbourne and southern California. In drawing on that tradition, she does what so many musicians have done before her, using it to clarify her own voice. Thieves is McNeil’s most mature and personal album to date; she wrote much of it after spending time with her father during the last three months of his life. The resulting music takes chances with longer songs that breathe both musically and lyrically, traversing terrain that explores spatial, temporal and emotional distances.

With a 14-hour time difference between Australia and the eastern United States, McNeil took some time before heading off to her job as a high school drama and music teacher to speak with Bandcamp about Thieves and the journeys that shaped its arrival.

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