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Iconic imagery, delicious, lust filled words transcending us into another frame of mind.  This immediately comes to mind when I try to sum up what The Tyranny of Love is about. The problem is, there is no summing it up.  I have been left wanting more.

Unless you’ve met Nik or heard his radio show, HOWL on CIUT.FM, you won’t know what his voice sounds like. He has a very sexy, sensuous, seasoned rock and roll poets tone.  It was hard to read The Tyranny of Love without reading each piece with Nik’s voice attached to it, adding to the romance of each piece.

When I was first introduced to Nik’s writing, I fell instantaneously in love.  His writing captures the realities of life and love, taking the harshness of it all, crushing it into beautiful, strange colours, creating a paradox on written canvas.  There is a powerful ebb and flow, waves cresting with religious, iconic visions of God, steamy after moments of coital pleasure and pop culture.

There is a new wave of poets and writers that have emerged in the city of Toronto.  I personally call them The Rock and Roll poets.  They are reminiscent of the new wave of poets and writers of the 60’s and 70’s such as Jack Kerouac, Hunter S. Thompson, or Truman Capote.  Nik Beat is one of these Rock and Roll poets, adding a new and powerful flavour to the literary scene.

Under normal circumstances, I would single out a few poems that were my favourites.  I can’t do that here.  It’s impossible.  Each piece standing out and speaking to me equally.     64 pages of an unending orgasmic, poetic experience. The Tyranny of Love has left me wanting more, needing more of Nik Beat’s words.

Rock and Roll Poet.

There is a new movement, a new style of Poet emerging in the city of Toronto.  A movement I hope goes viral.  Poets who are become the rockstars or our literary scene in every sense of the word.  Brandon Pitts is one of these Poets.  On the page and in performance, he fills the stage with a lyrical presence, oozing a sensual vibration of power in his chosen words.  His voice an instrument.  Pressure to Sing is Brandon Pitts songbook, his album, his concert.  His poetry images of his past, present and future.

Pressure to Sing is a structural masterpiece, with 11 chapters.  Each chapter’s poems defining a story, an emotion and a message. I won’t choose favourites amongst the poems in this book as they all stand out.  However, one particular poem in Pressure to Sing does deserve that little bit of extra attention and accolade.  Lot, a poem that affected me emotionally, leaving me in a breathless state, having me swing hard, between, anger, disgust and empathy for the state of human evolution. A modern expose mixed with religious icons, a society failing at making a better world.  The last line of the poem, a powerful statement, ‘We are defining our times’ rings honesty and truth.  Brandon has a video poem for Lot that is a must see.  (http://brandonpitts.com/Videos.html).  Lot is a powerful, moving piece, that should be read and heard by all.

As a poet and writer, Brandon Pitts is defining our times indeed.  He raises the bar to a level that we haven’t seen in decades. A bar that should inspire other poets and writers to reach for.

Coil is a thing of magic and passion, filled with spirituality, sensuality and intense, raw emotional words that can only come from experiencing life with eyes wide open.   The poems in Coil are a selection of 800 pieces written over the course of several months. Poems that feel as if they were channelled from another world, their vessel being Susan Munro.

I was first introduced to Susan Munro’s poetry at an open mic for The Beautiful and the Damned.  Open mic’s are magical and sometimes strange, never knowing what to expect from the performance.   After hearing Susan read, I knew this beautiful woman’s words were more than just a delicious treat, it felt as if I was put under a spell, her spell.

Thomas Scott’s quote on the back of Coil, sums it up perfectly. “This is a collection of poems that feels like a finely cut stone, with each poem a slightly different facet of the whole. You will find intensity and magic here, clarity and airiness — just on the other side of understanding.”

Coil is a flawless piece of work, as is each poem within the covers.  From the religious flavouring of Marks, to the sensual and sexy piece Love is a Car, Susan Munro’s Coil will leave you with a vibrant visual of words transcending to a higher level of divine.  A muse for our times, Susan Munro is a beautiful woman with a beautiful soul.

Reviewed by Anne. F. Walker

The QWERTY Institute of Cosmetic Typographical Enhancements
Author: Angela Szczepaniak
Publisher:  BookThug 2012
Cost: $25 CDN
Where to buy: http://www.bookthug.ca/proddetail.php?prod=201106&cat=95

The Apothecary
Author: Lisa Robertson
Publisher:  BookThug 2007
Cost: $12 CDN
Where to buy: http://www.bookthug.ca/proddetail.php?prod=361

FIELDNOTES, a forensic
Author: Kate Eichhorn
Publisher:  BookThug 2010
Cost: $18 CDN
Where to buy: http://www.bookthug.ca/proddetail.php?prod=201017

Recently Laura Moriarty, Deputy Director of Small Press Distribution in Berkeley, California, noted that Canadian poets seem to demonstrate an internalized idea that everyday people might read their work, and that this is different from Americans.  I like this idea.  It compliments my sense that Canadian poets as a whole are interested in avant-garde form, and yet remain invested in something tangible, sensual and/or concrete.  Canadian work seems located to me.  Three books which each maintain some of this particular aesthetic are FIELDNOTES, a forensic by Kate Eichhorn (BookThug 2010), The Apothecary by Lisa Robertson (BookThug 2007), and The QWERTY Institute of Cosmetic Typographical Enhancements by Angela Szczepaniak (BookThug 2012).

bpNichol was my first poetry teacher.  I studied with him at York University, and he mentored my poetry before his passing. Once I had asked him what a concrete poem (pond/frog) on his office door meant.  He had me figured out I think.  He said that when one writes in perfect syntax, with correct punctuation, one is working with the established power norms.  He said “fucking with language IS fucking with power.”  I understood.  I began to appreciate why we fuck with language, particularly in ways that invite readers to experience story and song differently.  It is part of a strong Canadian literary tradition, shifting things, exploring shifts.  All of these books work innovatively with form. Two of them open the alphabet into poetry sequences.

In FIELDNOTES, a forensic Kate Eichhorn’s film-script/poetry appears printed inside the cover in gray and black.  The title page on page three of the book is crowded by the prose poetry script that concludes with the lines: “SMASH TO END OF TEASER, ROLL TITLE CREDITS.”  Inside the pages are lyric poems in traditional left-justified form (“skin slippage / gloving / remains in a holding pattern” (16),) prose poems, bits of script. There are words and lines lined out.  A sense of the body and of place, of pattern, seem key.  The decomposition and re-composition we read in the structure appears over and over in the images: “Therapy can include drink.  Complete isolation. Knotted strings around necks. Blood boiled for steam.  Childbirth.  Thrashing.  Counteragents.  Coins” (51). Lists often indicate abundance, overage, too much to examine individually, thus the list.  This known use of the convention of lists in poetry makes heavier this collection’s specific content. FIELDNOTES, a forensic concludes on the inside of the back cover with a transforming list:

DOE, JANE you point and nod
DOE, JANE using a crowbar
DOE, JANE another coroner
DOE, JANE a set of bones
DOE, JANE the examining table
DOE, JANE forensics
label side of DOE, JANE
formalin-fixed DOE, JANE
no traces of Ecstasy DOE, JANE
chloral hydrate DOE, JANE
morphology DOE, JANE
toe tag on table dials skeletal remains
JANE DOE’S RECORDED VOICE
CUE SONG

Lisa Robertson starts out The Apothecary with:

Tersely I find myself beginning with the letters gl instead of grass undeniably to found a presumption of intimacy and station upon myself which would seem to speak not of that scission but of the really normal beauty still floundering between my teeth just as within the wilder dominion urges entertain and puddle seeming to offer proof that weekends once so drowsily couched and now algebraically supplied attach tenderness to symmetrical and embroiled vocabularies.

It’s a train ride that shifts tracks and doubles back.  What first caught me was that Robertson locates herself in language first, finding herself beginning with letters. She assigns emotion to this process, and negotiates how these letters are an “instead of” the very tangible “grass.”    Most of the prose poems use this technique of no periods in the stanza, or poem.  Aligned with bpNichol’s sense of disturbing syntactic norms, this practice pushes my expectation of closure at any given point.  Instead I find a turn replaces a stop. On page thirteen she begins an articulation of “the shimmying throat of an alphabet.”  For nine pages alphabetized titles and short prose poems roam. One italicized lyric poem pulls pages thirty-one and thirty-two, after that poem the prose poems do contain periods internally.  These poems work with the invisible rhythmic turns and twists of the (almost) period-less often-squared double-justified.

The QWERTY Institute of Cosmetic Typographical Enhancements by Angela Szczepaniak invites us into a contextual tone, ironic against the backdrop of this collection, in  “Normal”:

The QWERTY Institute recently put out a citywide call for characters who describe themselves—quite comfortably and without irony—as “normal.” The overwhelming number of candidates who met The Institute’s rigorous normalcy background check were asked a series of identical questions on topics ranging from current events, to art and politics, to the weather. Participants were urged to give their absolutely honest first responses—“the more naked the better” was, in fact, their only instruction. The results of this landmark study remain inconclusive, though its significance can hardly be disputed. The following represents a sampling of the compelling responses that colour the spectrum of “Normal.” The full study may be obtained from The QWERTY Institute for a small processing fee.

This tone is reminiscent to me of the film-script opening of FIELDNOTES, a forensic.  Not in a derivative sense, but in the sense that it instructs the reader on a manner with which to engage with the text.  This is poetry.  It is visual on-the-page.  It is slides, script fragments, large letters, small letters, letters replacing currency and buying bread, “trivia will take the place of paper currency—a loaf of bread will cost roughly 2 scientific facts & an obscure literary quotation” (10), imagined historic journals, comedy sequences, “This is a font comedian. Look at him. Observe him in his natural habitat, the deserted airport bar…” (16), security and passport documents, and and and…

The first eight-six pages are alphabetic concrete and “found” poems.  This pattern resonates with The Apothecary’s nine pages alphabetized prose poems.  It takes the idea in a completely different manner.  The sense, though, of exploring the alphabet through a series of intricately considered parts, is a common element. There is a section “Normal,” that starts on page eight, another on page 28, and on pages 87, 92, 155 and 225.  This is some playful, insane, off the map, narrative-infused, concrete, language poetry.  It forms surprising bridges, between ideas phrased in unexpected forms.  It messes with language in a quite bpNichol-esk tradition.

Already terrified of clowns and big yellow birds, Jeff Cottrill has now added weird green people who live in garbage can’s to my growing list of those to avoid on my journey into the ether-world.  Jeff Cottrill’s one man play, Grouch on a Couch has proven my theory about Sesame Street’s Oscar the Grouch that one should never judge a Grouch until they have heard their tales of woe.

Revealing life lessons with the help of a Bob Newhartesque therapist, the real Grouch surfaces, putting an end to Hollywood myths about his real image, history and resolve.  Grouch on a Couch reminds us that even when covered with the filth of the world, there is always a deeper, underlying story to be heard.

Written in the edgy, biting, realistic humour of Jeff Cottrill, Grouch on the Couch is a dark, gripping satire that should be both read and seen on a stage. After seeing Jeff perform live many times in the last few years, it’s hard not to love Grouch on a Couch and regain sympathy for the stinky man in the garbage can.

Pick up a copy and when the play is back on a stage near you, check it out.

You can also see Jeff at these upcoming shows:

Upcoming shows are listed on Jeff’s site, http://jeffcottrill.com/
In a nutshell:

Storytelling at Caplansky’s
April 22, 8:00
Caplansky’s, 356 College

Jammin’ on the One
May 11, 7:30
Arts and Letter Club, 14 Elm

Also doing Plasticine again in August.

Lisa Young fills her pages with warmth. There are smells of hyacinth, of mint, of pine that permeate, and surrounding these are phrases filled with truth. Enormous stories finely whittled to stanzas.
Young takes the natural world and holds it alongside the human condition in a way that is both romantic and honest. She travels the reader under hutches, down banisters, plunges them into warm dishwater, once here, she sifts poetic ideas, whispers sadness, remorse, and heated thoughts into ears.

There are some wonderful stranger pieces here as well, Alice and Baby is a tender portrait of madness, “How Do Bowls Sing” has the reader imagining the sound of intellect. “Mix Flour” is an excellent example of the kind of contrast Young brings to her work; her narrator kneads dough while speaking of a horrifying wedding scene. We are up to our elbows if flour when she takes such a turn.

Quattro as found a wonderful new voice in Lisa Young. “When the Earth” is something I’m currently wrapping to put under the tree for someone I love. Even though I have a huge distain for Christmas, I always love to give a good book.

In recent months I’ve read through many poetry collections.  My own personal poetry is set within dark humour, sexual misadventure and horror and am drawn to similar styles of writing. Though brilliantly written, much of what I’ve read of late, hasn’t filled my hunger for the darkness that I feel goes hand in hand with the type of poetry I appreciate. Amphetamine Heart, filled that void.

Liz Worth’s dark, deliberate collection is filled with sexual tension, sensual heat, and an edge of punk rock soul.  This prolific collection brings back memories of one night stands, miscalculated sexual encounters and that uncomfortable moment of waking up and not remembering how you got home.

Two poems that jumped off the page at me where Boozecan, though set on a summers night, reminds me of being 20 and walking home in the bitter cold, at 5 am from the local booze can. A warm buzz of cheap beer and tequila, and an unknown boy staggering behind and the poem M, leading to vivid memories of an obsessive love gone terribly astray.  Although not what the poem itself if about, it triggered many memories.

Part of Guenica’s First Poet’s collection, Amphetamine Heart and Liz Worth should be in every poetry lovers collection and one of the best of 2011.  Liz Worth, should be on everyone’s bookshelf.

the playfulness in Adebe D.A.’s poetry lifts the lyric. at the beginning of the poem “In Other Words” it seems like there is a salsa rhythm under the syntax. she moves back and forth between sounds like steps in a dance:

others and not some speak naturally of difference in
syntax/rhythm,
imagery traveling avenues beyond word/poems
that resist and cannot resist open rooms

later in the same poem the lines “O Plath why did you become another good bitch / who has to die before she gets put in books” seems to depict some to the author’s self-described intent of creating “a collection attuned to the creative process as a phenomenon of the will to move on (ex-) from nihilistic attitudes (nihilo), and in so doing (according to its original Latin etymology) create ‘something out of nothing.’” the poems concludes “I am trying to break away from circumstance, / trying to break down and further down / and eventually / through”

i buy it. i buy that this author is using art as transcendence, using sound tone rhythm as that which moves a person through growth toward possible permanent change. i buy

I pray for the dark and your dream each night
hoping to find your streets decked out
in glorious neons and steam, have dreamed
many times of your body singing me into chaos
and peace

found in “New York, My Future Love.” i buy that this is a new poetic voice moving through the new millennium’s cities and hybridities, singing a “mulatta song” suggested in “Beatrix.”

basically, i buy the book, and enjoy its melody.

Bio – Adebe DeRango-Adem, aka Adebe D. A., recently completed her MA at York University, where she also served as Assistant Editor for the arts and literary journal, Existere.  She won the Toronto Poetry Competition in 2005 to become Toronto’s first Junior Poet Laureate.  In 2008 she attended the summer writing program at Naropa University, where she mentored with Anne Waldman and Amiri Baraka at The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics.

Romy Shiller has done it again and after reading You Never Know, I knew she would.

In general it takes a lot for a book to hold my attention and a series even more so. My passion is fiction and non-fiction tends to leave me disappointed and in many cases the stagnated language used, bored. Romy Shiller on the other hand has a knack for not only drawing in the reader, but keeping them sitting at her dinner table, while she takes them down the path to an amazing journey.

“You Never Know is an inspirational book that everyone should read, as it proves to you, that determination and a will to rise above should never be doubted and Romy Shiller will prove it to you.” quote from my review of You Never Know. As with You Never Know, Who Knew is an inspiration. Romy shows the world that nothing to so terrible that you can’t find love, hope and life and like James Franco’s character in 127 hours, you go against the odds and get yourself out of the crevice.

What ever your situation may be, forgo the self help books. All the inspiration you will need, to figure out how to survive, thrive and live again can be found in You Never Know and Who Knew. It’s the only kick in the pants you will really need. I also strongly suggest you google Romy, check out her websites and read all you can about her.

BIO
Romy Shiller is a pop culture critic and holds a PhD in Drama from the University of Toronto. Her academic areas of concentration include film, gender performance, camp and critical thought. She lives in Montreal where she continues her writing. All books are available online.

Website: http://romyshiller.com/
Twitter: RomyShiller

Growing up, I was the kid who harassed her father to quickly finish reading the latest King novel so I could devour it. I constantly scared myself by watching the goriest horror movies I could get my hands on and by reading King, Lovecraft and Barker. As I was then, I’m still a huge fan of scaring myself and am always looking for new and creative ways to do so. Of late, I’ve been disappointed with much of what has been offered to us in the way of horror, until I started reading Terror Town, the latest release from horror author James Roy Daley.

Twisted, unpredictable and deliciously morbid, Terror Town was exactly what I needed to creep myself out. Terror Town has it all, horrifying creatures, vampires, zombies and likely one of the best written, sadomasochistic serial killer characters, since ‘Buffalo Bill’.

Many writers can’t seem to grasp the true essence of a serial killer, Daley has not only captured that essence, but made Nicolas Nehalem a character that will stay in your nightmares for a very long time. This novel is filled with many insane characters, and terrifying monsters, but Nicolas was by far my favourite.

Terror Town was my first journey into the twisted mind of James Roy Daley and he succeeded in providing me with the scare I needed. I don’t often give a novel a five star review, but Terror Town definitely deserves it. Written with characters and creatures you fear will jump off the page and come after you at any moment, Terror Town is the ultimate scarefest.

Currently Terror Town is only available in e-book form and can be purchased at both amazon.com and smashwords.com. Have no fear, you don’t need a Kindle or a Kobo to read it. You can also view most e-books on your computer, iPhone and Blackberry or any phones that support e-books.

Bio:
James Roy Daley ~ is a writer, editor, and a professional musician. He studied film at the Toronto Film School, music at Humber College, and English at the University of Toronto. In 2007 his first novel, The Dead Parade, was released in 1,100 bookstores across America. In 2009 he founded a book company called Books of the Dead Press, where he enjoyed immediate success working with many of the biggest names in horror. His first two anthologies, Best New Zombie Tales Volume One, and Best New Zombie Tales Volume Two, far exceeded sales predictions, leading many of the top horror writers in the world to view his little company as one worth watching.

If you asked me to pitch Charlie Higson’s young adult horror novel, The Enemy, I’d probably call it Lord of the Flies meets 28 Days Later. And like a good high concept horror-flick, the conceit of the novel can be summarized in a single sentence: everyone over fourteen years of age has gone bananas, leaving all the younguns to fend for themselves in an apocalyptic England. Cue blood, betrayals, mutant zoo animals, and cannibalistic mums and dads.

There’s something to be said about a book that tells old stories in new and unfamiliar ways. In this case, Higson twists the tired apocalyptic zombie narrative by making an intrinsically weak demographic his focus. The strategy pays off: for adult readers unaccustomed to seeing children suffer, The Enemy is a parent’s nightmare, while younger readers will appreciate the ways in which the novel makes literal the often insurmountable chasm between childhood and the adult-world. As the book’s tagline puts it: you thought they would always protect you. In Higson’s England, nothing could be further from the truth.

Part of the fun comes from watching Small Sam, Arran and the rest of Higson’s tweens make adult decisions in a world where doing otherwise means being barbecued alive by Aunt Binny and Uncle Vern. And make no mistake, a surprising number of them do eventually succumb to deliciously gruesome ends. It’s to Higson’s credit that he’s not afraid to kill off his characters to keep his plot rumbling forward and his readers guessing.

By turns macabre and thought-provoking, The Enemy is for any kid — child or grown-up — who’s ever been force-fed vegetables and couldn’t help wondering what other acts of depravity adult life entails.

Hooked is a stunning new collection of seven poems about seven famous or infamous women: Myra Hindley, Unity Mitford, Zelda Fitzgerald, Dora Carrington, Carson McCullers, Jane Bowles, and Elizabeth Smart. Each of these women has a story, or rather obsession that shaped the outcome of their lives. Each poem is a story in itself, spoken in a way that creates an image in ones mind.

These women, who were all born before the end of World War II, defy the norm of society in an attempt to find their role in a society that was generally at the time hostile to females who had intelligence or ambition. The voices in these works are louder than usual as the freedoms we take for granted had not been recognized yet. There were no feminist here, just seven lives that at times are lost.

“Hooked delves into the heart of matter, unveiling and understanding loneliness and resolution in a way that is quite riveting.
Biography

Carolyn Smart was born in England and moved with her family to Ottawa where she grew up within the diplomatic community of Rockcliffe Park. Sent to boarding school on the coast of Sussex, England, at the age of 11, she began writing short stories to escape the loneliness and dislocation she experienced, and found she was truly happy when involved in the creation of fictional lives. Coming back to Canada, she moved to Toronto for high school and began writing poetry when she discovered the poetry of Leonard Cohen and e.e. cummings.

Her first poem was published when she was 17 in an anthology called Vibrations, edited by Gage publishing and intended for study in schools. She continued to publish throughout her years at the University of Toronto where she majored in English Literature and Far Eastern Religion.

Upon graduation, she worked in publishing at Doubleday Canada and then at Macmillan’s of Canada, where she worked with Gwendolyn MacEwen, Don Coles and Tom Wayman on their collections of poetry, and with Hugh MacLennan and Dennis Lee as a publicist.

Moving to Winnipeg for two years, she began work with the provincial government, editing the Manitoba Budget Address and organising interprovincial conferences for the office of the Premier.

Back in Toronto she continued studying poetry with Joe Rosenblatt and Pier Giorgio di Cicco, and gave her first public reading in 1977. She worked at various part-time jobs including selling clothes at the Eaton Centre and freelance copy-editing. Her first Canada Council grant enabled her to begin writing full-time in 1979 and her first collection of poetry was published in 1981.

Moving to the country north of Kingston in 1983 with her husband Kenneth de Kok, she continues to write and teaches both on-line for Writers In Electronic Residence and — since 1989 — as director of Creative Writing at Queen’s University. Kenneth and Carolyn have two sons, travel as much as they can, and have an extensive organic garden.

Zachary C. Bush is young. He’s also a poet, one who isn’t afraid to push the envelope. His collection, Angles of Disorder, is a testament to that willingness. Consider the following line from his poem “DNIWER TXE UE:” Quevedo invited Zufransia in to and Gongora’s ear.” Pardon? Meanwhile, in “THE VORTEX/&MEMORY,” one of Bush’s longer – and more experimental – pieces, he takes a sledgehammer to Ezra Pound and tells ‘New Formalist’ Professors to suck it: “These NObodies / these rats of comfort / these plagiarists of Formalism […] professing / their Program of Literary Politics.” Bush has a gift for blending prose and poetry, stretching the boundaries of both forms. Take “The Retired,” for example, a short narrative that cheerily plods towards its amicable climax: a whiskey-soaked orgy featuring the poem’s speaker, an elderly couple, and the birds they so assiduously watch. Poetry? Prose? Perverse? All of the above.

It’s no surprise, given Bush’s disdain for “Spoon-fed accessibility,” that many of these poems teeter on the brink of inscrutability. This is good. Trust me. Like String Theory or Star Wars-inspired interpretive dance, the more you think about Bush’s poetry, the better it gets.

Private investigator Felix Renn would love to patch things up with this wife Sandra. She may be eager for a divorce, but Felix isn’t crazy about the idea. Having lunch with her at a swanky Toronto restaurant would seem like a good start to putting her in a more favourable state of mind. It doesn’t hurt that famous actor Jimmy Logan was sitting at the table next to them. The problems start when the actor grabs the waiter and bites him on the neck and begin to feed vampire-style. That through a monkey-wrench into any plans of making this a romantic encounter.Of course there is a mad panic, except for our hero who has seen enough vampire movies to know how to react. Grabbing a broken leg of a chair, he plunges it through the actor/vampire’s chest “with a volcanic gush of blood”.

Now Felix Renn is on the case. It seems that Jimmy Logan wasn’t a real vampire, only a temporary one. The cops are trying to decide whether Felix should be charged with murder, which only give the intrepid Felix more incentive. This slim volume follows him through ‘Hollywood North’ as he gets to the bottom of the case.

This chapbook would be a good read for anyone who is eagerly awaiting Season 3 of ‘True Blood’, the next ‘Twilight’ movie, or if you can’t get enough of that TV show ‘The Vampire Diaries’.

reviewed by Cathy Petch

When I love a book, I push these little copper page markers onto lines I want to relish, revisit. Chris Tusa’s “Dirty Little Angels” is a sea of copper. I was so spoiled by the first paragraphs that I had to stop reading when the tone changed. Who could top an opening line like “The baby was a white fist of flesh?” Damn, it’s like gorging on mutton and thousand dollar wine. “That night I dreamed of Mama’s flesh creaking as the doctor unstitched the trapdoor in her stomach.” My cup runneth…

Tusa drags you along with 16-year-old Haley as she and her family slip further into bad news, bad choices and horrific circumstances. Watching her precarious parents fall apart after a miscarriage, she looks for heroes in her bull-headed brother and his ex-preacher friend Moses. She throws herself into situations with the regard of someone who both thinks they will live forever, and someone who wants to die loved. The story is sweet, violent, sad and irresistible.
Tusa finds a heartbreaking voice while slipping easily into the skin of a teenage girl. He brings the reader words that drip molasses onto the senses, and a story that seeps sadness. “That afternoon, the sky was the colour of raw meat.” Stop it Tusa, I’m being ruined for other books,” the sky was the same terrible blue as Jesus’ eyes”, enough already, no literary sky will ever be the same!

There is a beautiful and terrifying magic around Louisiana that Tusa conducts like a voodoo king in his debut novel. Now if only I could take his English course at LSU, maybe my life would be complete.

“But I think we are seeing a resurgence of the graphic ghost story like The Others, Devil’s Backbone and The Sixth Sense. It is a return to more gothic atmospheric ghost storytelling.” ~ Guillermo del Toro

As an avid fan of horror, I’ve read many different types of the genre from the classics, to pulp horror, to the latest Vampire obsession, but nothing holds my interest more than a good ghost tale. I grew up around a group of great story tellers, amongst the tales of naughty childhoods there would always be a story of something supernatural. To this day I wish someone had written down these amazing tales, who knows, maybe one day I will. Fortunately for my own generation of story tellers, Robert J. Wiersema has written his version of a ghost story. The World More Full of Weeping has a wonderful knack for drawing you in and sending that chill up the back of your spine at just the right moments.

Robert J. Wiersema has written a definite classic telling of a spirit from beyond. The tale of a young boys supernatural experience while wandering in nearby woods sounds familiar in many ways. As a youngster growing up in the Bruce Peninsula, many a family outing would take place in the thick back woods of Southern Ontario. The noises and shadows amongst the trees would set anyones imagination running, the perfect setting for a tale of wandering spirits. The forests of British Columbia are full of legendary tales of ghosts and mythical creatures and this novella surely adds to the mystic. In an industry filled with video game styled horror movies were it isn’t even necessary to think about what is going on in the story, we need to return to the original ways of storytelling to really appreciate the things that should be scaring us. The World More Full of Weeping is exactly what the readers of today needs to get their imaginations working again.

BIO
Robert J. Wiersema is a bookseller and reviewer, who contributes regularly to the Vancouver Sun, the Globe and Mail, the Ottawa Citizen and numerous other newspapers. Wiersema is also the event coordinator for Bolen Books. He lives in Victoria, B.C., with his wife, Cori Dusmann, and their son, Xander.

I was at an event when I heard about this book of short stories. If you couldn’t tell from the title, each story is about an older woman with a younger man. Intriguing, right?!?! But once had it in my hands I was completely turned off by the cover. The only word I can come up to describe it is “Corny!” There is a VERY young male laying shirtless with a sunset in the background as a cougar (yes, as in the cat) stands over him. But I still continued to read, and I have to say I’m very happy I did. The category falls somewhere in between that of romance and erotica, but I would never put it in either genre whole-heartedly. When I think erotica I think…hot, raw, passionate, and raunchy! This was nice, romantic, playful, and sexual.

Chapter 2: “Sophisticated Sensuality “was my favourite. I’m not going to give details as these are short stories and it would be too easy to give away too much. Let’s just say it will make woman of any age question their boundaries. I found it very imaginative and very well written.

My overall impression for this collection of short stories was SATISFIED. I was entertained and at points aroused. I love the fact that it takes a deeper look into women’s sex, not as a tool of or for a relationship, but for her ultimate pleasure. The theme of women’s sexual liberations was apparent throughout the collection. And I hope that this inspires younger women to accept and engage in their sexuality without insecurity.

So I do recommend this novel, for as Snoggles states in her dedication “This book is dedicated to anyone – especially older women and younger men, taking a chance on love, lust and going for what you want: not being intimidated…” I fully agree. Just don’t let the cover deter you!

Bio
Cathy Snoggles, born and raised in Montreal, now resides in Toronto, Canada.

A lover of all things artistic and creative from fashion to home décor, she is fairly new to the writing scene. A published author who now proudly boasts two books under her belt – Erotic Tales Sure to Arouse The Senses and Tantalizing Cougar Tales and is currently working on the follow up to the latter.

Mattox Roesch, former indie rocker and skateboard salesman, has penned a welcome addition to the slacker-fiction pantheon. In the weirdly titled Sometimes We’re Always Real Same-Same, Cesar, a former gang-banger from LA, doesn’t have much in the way of family – his father’s not around and his brother’s in prison for murder, so when his mother decides to pack it up and move to Unalakleet, a small Alaskan fishing village miles away from any significant urban centre, Cesar decides to tag along. Of course, his life in Alaska is only a pitstop on his way back to LA. That’s what he tells his eccentric cousin Go-Boy, anyway, and the two make a bet: if Cesar’s still in Unalakleet in a year’s time, he’ll get a tattoo of Go-Boy’s Eskimo Jesus design.

Even though the novel is filtered through Cesar, his cousin is its real star and, dare I say, the reason the narrative works. A college drop-out and consummate optimist, Go-Boy believes he’s part of an escalating global conspiracy. Its mission? The ascension of a new world, a Good World of transcendent values, beauty, and love. Okay, let’s be honest: you’re a cynic, I’m a cynic, and at first Cesar’s a cynic, too. Preached by any other, Go-Boy’s gospel would be sentimental pap ripe for dismissal. But there’s something unquestionably endearing about Go-Boy, something addictive about his philosophy. Like Cesar, we grow to want to believe, even when Go-Boy himself falters.

Sometimes We’re Always Real Same-Same is less about growing up and more about reinvention, both of oneself and one’s world. It’s about the kind of life where your car can break down in the middle of nowhere and when a good Samaritan asks if you need a hand you hand him a camera to document the hilarity. More than anything, though, the novel is about building community and forging ties in expected places, about how even in the midst of disparate lifestyles and values, we’re “always the real same-same.”

Love Rocks is a children’s book, a story of a little boy who finds “love rocks” one day walking in his neighbourhood. I have to say reviewing a children’s book was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. It required me to strip away all my experience, pain and heart ache, that makes you a functional adult and just think in simple terms. I almost didn’t write this review, as I was watching TV as I was reading it. But then the next day I read it again. And this time I thought of my 3 year old nieces, and how excited they would be to read this book. I threw my cynical attitude out the door and just read it for what it was. And you know what? When I finished reading it this time, I was smiling. For as I read it, I knew which parts I would see the looks of excitement; the moments when they would be in awe and I could hear their giggles as they read it over and over again.

Love does indeed rock, as this short story reminded me of my love of my nieces who live far away. So this weekend I plan to head to Indigo/chapters and pick-up 2 more copies of “Love Rocks” and send them to my nieces so we have a beautiful, sweet, simple story to share. I suggest you pick one up too!
Thank you Ms. Williams!

Bio
Nadine Williams a native of rural Jamaica is an Author and Poet. She currently resides in Brampton ON with her three children, and has written three books to her credit; the title of which are: THE CULMINATION OF MARRIAGE BETWEEN ME AND MY PEN, WITH THIS PEN I DO TELL, AND LOVE ROCKS. Further information can be gathered at nadinewilliams.com!

Reviewed by Carolina Smart

Never judge a book by it’s cover, isn’t that what the old adage says. My question is, why not? I actually believe that covers should represent what is inside a book, how else would you know if you wanted to pick it up off the shelf. Brains vs Coffee The Daily Debate of Urban Undead has that type of cover. The kind that is intriguing and makes the consumer want to pick it up and start reading it. Who wouldn’t want to pick up a book that has a picture of a brain and a cup of coffee on it.

The intro to this book is the best way to describe what you will find inside the covers. “This book is a collection of 100 arguments in my Brains vs Coffee debate, with points awarded to each side accordingly.” Arguments that are not only hilarious, but had me nodding my head in agreement with her statements. Points such as “I can leave my coffee unattended without worrying the dog will run away with it” or “For retro parties, brains can be included in the fondue platter” are not only practical, but very true and you don’t have to have Ghoul Friday’s sense of humour to get them.

Brains vs Coffee The Daily Debate of Urban Undead is the perfect book if you need a quick giggle and at 59 pages, it can be read in under 15 minutes. You will likely read it a few times. I loved this ghoulish little gem so much that it now resides on the back of my toilet with my other horror guides and Zombie Haiku book. If you make it to that pile it’s a big deal, I just hope no one tucks it into their pants and walks away with it.

You can purchase your own copy on Ghoul Friday’s website, http://www.ghoulfriday.com/. I strongly suggest, while you are there you should take a wander around her site. She has an amazing assortment of links on the right side that take you to places such as Canada Creepshows (links to Canadian Hauntings), Horrific how to’s, an amazing link list of like minded ghouls, Art Ghoulry and Halloween Party Planning. The website is just as much fun as her book. I have already checked back on numerous times to read her blog.

Ghoul Friday and Brains vs Coffee The Daily Debate of Urban Undead aren’t just for Halloween. Enjoy them all year long.

Bio: Who is Ghoul Friday?

Picture of a skull-faced smiling girl with pigtails, sitting in a graveyardIt started when my parents let me spray paint a tombstone on the concrete wall of our basement for my Grade 4 Halloween party.

It was my first real Halloween party, and I wanted it to be great. I constructed a haunted house the length of the basement and lead people through dangling, slimy snakes hanging from the ceiling – just one example of the many forms and obstacles waiting for them in the shadow. I hadn’t gotten over my fear of the dark, and I was deathly afraid of being in the basement alone (never mind with the lights off), but to make sure I could see well enough to safely guide each guest one by one through the haunted space, I sat alone in the pitch black basement for 20 minutes before the party goers even started to arrive.

That’s when she was born, the little ghoul in the basement. Since then, she has come back to me every year, usually in late summer, ready to build creatures for Halloween. Sure, she’s there throughout the other months, peeking through my eyes at the newest horror film being released, or tickling my neck so I turn to see the brochure for the Festival of Fear coming to the city.

But it’s in August when she whispers “Is it time to sit in the dark?”

Yes Friday. It’s time. What friends shall we create this year?

{Bio from: http://www.ghoulfriday.com/who_ghoul_friday}

Mary Akers dives in and out of women’s lives. The characters have been pulled into focus and then flung back to situations that are destined to remain unchanged. A good writer can make you feel like a voyeur, and Akers achieves. From PETA activists in public places with only paint for clothing, to women who pull cars off of neglectful husbands, these characters are amazing, intriguing and sometimes even embarrassing to witness. Several times I wanted to climb into the stories, to rescue the protagonist and sit her down for a glass of wine and perspective.

Akers appreciates the inner monologue; the desperation that comes with thinking your situation is unchangeable. The characters crescendo in front of my eyes, frantically trying to figure out how to fly while tumbling down mountains. They become women you see everyday, your friends who would never want to admit they almost drove their children off a cliff, or that they stopped eating in a house full of mirrors. Mary Akers’s “Women Up On Blocks” is something sad and wonderful to witness, a stellar short story collection.

Reviewed by Andrew MacDonald

Horror author Bill Hussey has been called a master of horror and the second coming of Clive Barker. High praise indeed, and while it may be premature to call him the second coming of anything, there’s no question Hussey has chops.

The Absense follows up his successful debut, Through a Glass Darkly, and concerns the troubled Nightingales, a family of three hanging together by a thread. Widower Richard’s alcoholism and grief make him a captain ill-suited to steer the family ship, while his youngest son Bobby, crippled by the suicide of a bullied best friend he abandoned, contemplates taking his own life. Stuck between them is Joe, whose reckless driving cost him the life of his mother, the maudlin, distant Janet Nightingale, a strange woman with a mysterious past of her own.

When the family inherits an old mill from a gnarled woman infamous for burning her little sister alive, Richard, Bobby and Joe must face a creature of absence hungry for their sins.

Like a handful of thumbtacks dropped from an airplane, The Absense becomes most dangerous when it picks up steam; readers with the patience to trudge through a slow exposition are rewarded in the second half of the novel, where an expertly crafted labyrinth of twists and turns makes every page a gut-wrenching, and enlightening, experience.

This isn’t dime store pulp horror; the development of Joe and his family, the slow unveiling of their faults and fears, give the novel the kind of breathtaking verisimilitude at work in the finest horror novels, while Hussey’s sentences announce him as a linguistic technician of the highest order.

But don’t let Hussey’s skillful wordsmithing fool you – The Absense gets mighty freaky. Consider, for example, the most frightening infant on this side of Trainspotting:

“Elsie looked down when the real pain began. Inch by laboured inch, the baby dragged itself back inside her. It wriggled and squirmed until its head filled the dilated cavity.”

And poor Elsie’s just one of many characters forced to suffer for sins passed. Mixing psychological realism and the supernatural, The Absense is a detective novel, a ghost story, and a family epic, from a writer who might just live up to the hype.

Several months ago I reviewed Romy Shiller’s wonderfully inspirational book ‘You Never Know’. ‘You Never Know’, is a biographical story about the traumatic events that changed Romy Shiller’s life. It was beautifully written, sending a powerful message and leaving me to think about my own fate in this world.

When I received ‘Again’ I was just as eager to crack open the cover to see what journey I was about to take next with Romy. Once again I found myself hooked right from the beginning. Using her own experiences and knowledge on the subject, we are taken into the world of Reincarnation. Many books currently on the shelves relating to this subject are hard to understand and very tedious to read for the layperson. Romy Shiller’s approach will have anyone with a curious mind on the subject matter fully engorged and craving for more.

I myself am an avid reader on everything relating to the Occult. This isn’t an Occult based book, rather one that uses Romy’s experiences with Reincarnation to help the reader fully understand not only what it really is, but the spiritual aspects to it. As a reader you will become emotionally attached, as you take yet another wonderful journey with this amazing and intuitive writer.

I strongly suggest for those of you interested in learning about Reincarnation, start with this book before you start reading the complicated texts that most will recommend. However, be prepared to be knocked off your feet with the emotional journey this book takes you on.

Romy Shiller is a force to be reckoned with and I am once again looking forward to her next book.

Reviewed by Andrew MacDonald

Harlot, a collection of poems from Switzerland-based writer Jill Alexander Essbaum, opens with quotes from William Blake, Leonard Cohen, and the Bible. Flip to any page and you’ll see that Essbaum wears her influences on her sleeve, weaving a complex tapestry of kink and confession that cleverly blends the profane and the perverse. In title alone, “The Men We Marry, the Men We Fuck,” speaks to the tension between what’s moral and what’s depraved. “This one wed me in the chapel,” the speaker informs us, before undercutting the institution of marriage with an Edenic nod to the Fall a line later: “That one ate me like an apple.”

Unsurprisingly, Essbaum seems to have disdain for the wholesome, a predilection she puts to good use in the brief poem “The Heart:”

“Four simple chambers.
A thousand complicated doors.
One of them is yours.”

Here Essbaum transforms the heart, an organ famously given from one lover to another, into an insatiable engine of desire.

Some poems, like “Judas Hausfaru” and “Magdalene’s Hymn,” outright claim the bible as their source. Others, like the ode “For the Bruxist,” are secular nods to deliciously fraught, almost masochistic sexual encounters that position the reader on the precipice between destruction and desire. In each case, Essbaum’s mastery of rhyme and rhythm steals the show.

Harlot is a rare beast, a throwback to an almost forgotten era where a poem’s sound mattered. It’s a collection meant to be enjoyed aloud, under the covers or, for the more adventurous, in stirrups.

Sheri Foley is part of a crew, The Kill Crew. Sheri Foley is also trapped in a living nightmare of a world gone wrong and each night the crew leaves the safety of protective walls to try to make it right again.

The world has ceased as mankind once knew it and now all that exists are two groups of beings. The Stoppers and the Commuters. The Commuters are the infected ones and the Stoppers must end the spread of the disease that infects them, by exterminating the Commuters. Kill or be killed. The job description sounds easy enough, it they didn’t have to do it under the cover of darkness and if the Commuters weren’t Zombie like creatures that were nearly impossible to kill.

Joseph D’Lacey scares me and trust me, this is hard to do. I have often wondered how the world will find it’s demise. I don’t think it will be war or a bomb going off, I envision a planet that has decided to revolt against humankind, Mother Nature losing her patience with the creatures that daily try to destroy her. Joseph D’Lacey’s story The Kill Crew is that future nightmare floating around in my head. I don’t have to have nightmares to visualize this, I just have to read one of his novels!

My first taste of Joseph D’Lacey’s work was Garbageman, another terrifying look into the future of our environmentally destroyed world and the possible outcome. A master story teller, this man knows how to get your attention from page one and keep you white knuckling your way right to the end of the ride. As I’ve said in another review, Joseph D’Lacey gives Stephen King a major run for the money.

The Kill Crew was more along the lines of a novella than a full blown novel and just enough of a bite into Sheri Foley’s world to keep you itching for more. I selfishly hope the story continues and we find out where the futuristic nightmare takes us.

Bio

Joseph D’Lacey was born in London and has spent most of his life in the midlands. He is the author of MEAT and Garbage Man.

“My mother warned me never to tell stories that aren’t true. It’s been great fun ignoring her advice.”

By day he runs an acupuncture practice (sticking needles into people and making little dolls scream). Between patients (victims) he writes all manner of disturbingly entertaining fiction.

He lives in Northamptonshire with his wife and daughter.

Transcendence is pivotal to Liz Worth’s Eleven : Eleven. I like Eleven : Eleven best where it telescopes into details such as “It’s these numbered streets where our shadows are build of stained pavement as we walk to trade coins for glass bottles. These glow and grow … It’s these streets where we live like atrocities, learning the cartography of sin. And it’s on these streets where Maxine urns to me and says, It’s only theatre. // It’s only theatre.”

In places like this it has rhythm, music, and vision. These artistic elements elevate the text and allow it to transcend its material, material which includes the occult, emotional volatility, and impulses of self destruction that fall upon the protagonist. The protagonist obsesses, and is infatuated with her own demise. Don’t get me wrong. This bleak emotional landscape is one to which I can intimately relate, and this is why I am deeply relieved where I see it move past itself into art.

The collection is self-described as a creation that “doesn’t blur the lines between fact and fiction – instead it exposes the shades of gray that we all live in.” I like the impulse depicted, and agree. There is always a pull to narrate within the known. And a pull to disturb that sense of knowing. As Audre Lorde wrote: “poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. It forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action. Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought. The farthest horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of our daily lives.”

Bio – Liz Worth writes about her nightmares. She also writes about punk rock, makes zines, and obsesses over the words of Daniel Jones. She is the author of Treat Me Like Dirt (Bongo Beat Books), which documents the beginnings of the Toronto punk scene. It made her realize she does not want to live in the future.

Heidi Wyss’ Gormglaith, a techno-gothic, speculative lesbian novel, has quietly amassed a small but devoted contingent of followers on the web. Lovers of skin like Gormglaith‘s kinky illustrations and the Sapphic love shared between its characters, while would-be etymologists can delight in the challenging polyphony of Celtic, Norse, Old English, and hacker argot.

The plot, such as it is, orbits around its titular character, the enigmatic Gormglaith, over the five days following her discovery of the circumstances of her birth.

The scope of Wyss’ world building, augmented by an expansive array of notes and a glossary at the book’s end, recalls the work of gender-bending speculative fiction writers Ursula LeGuin and Joanna Russ.  Russ’ The Female Man in particular springs to mind, sharing with Gormglaith a future bereft of the Y chromosome.

There are moments when Wyss the linguist becomes Wyss the poet, deftly splicing disparate tongues to fashion a feast to the ears. Take this bit of dialogue, for example:

“Ok, I thought it was selfish. I told ’em, ‘Twins are cool. I’m eighth

in a string by the wombs but if you tell her, if you lay nettles on her

back, if I ever see you grooming any moppet of ours for Wrathness,

I’m out the door.’ As it happened Enid had said rather much the same

thing to them.”

Here the delivery is pitch perfect, the cadence something like music. When Wyss is on, the results can be explosive.

The novel is not without its challenges, however. At times the novel’s word-play obscures meaning, the linguistic excess complicating a plot that’s already tough to follow.

Still, as a free e-book, Gormglaith is a bargain buy for speculative fiction lovers of all stripes, especially those who like their fiction difficult, imaginative, and transgressive.

I love Parkdale and poetry about it, so when I read titles like “A Parkdale Snowstorm,” “Gentrification,” and “One Stop Before Roncesvalles,” I know I’m in the right place. These ring the geographic notes of Toronto’s south west neighbourhood that was built first of mansions (before the freeway cut it off from the lake) and then changed to one of rooming houses. The affluent left and the Queen Street Mental Health Center’s out-patients rented locally. Across the street the Cee Dee candy factory closed and that strip of Queen became a working girl zone. The factory then became “Candy Factory Lofts” and change just keeps moving forward.

Variety abounds in the collection as in its historic geographic grounding. Some of the poetry in this collection read like spoken word. “VIII” of “A Dozen Red Roses” lists and repeats is a way that suggests writing for the ear. Other poems, such as the first, untitled piece in “A Dozen Red Roses” is designed on the page to address the readers eye. Poems express clear images with trimmed language. The pieces are often to “her.” “Her neighbourhood is so dangerous” “Hers was singular,” “her femininity,” “these twelve orange-brown adorn her doorway.” It creates a particular focus in the collection, a focus with which context can be explored and contained with specificity and music.

My favourite line is from “A Parkdale Snowstorm.” It reads “bar maiden and a 24” TV from the last century.” It just struck me as a lines I have never heard before, and I like that.

This is a good collection of diverse aesthetic impulses. It has focus, detail and attention to sound.

Bio – Dane A. W. Swan is Toronto-based Bermudian writer is predominately known as a spoken-word artist. He has performed spoken word in over a dozen cities throughout North America. Performances of his poetry have also been featured on CDs and vinyls that have been distributed across Canada and the Atlantic.

“Too bad Howard is an alcoholic doofus who’s obsessed with the memory of his ex-wife.”

Howard Plank is an investigator for a special division of the RCMP that investigates the Paranormal. His investigation techniques are a little sloppy and generally happen when he is in a drunken stupor. Howard just isn’t very good at his job.

As with the original Section K, the novel that originates the character of Howard Plank, the hilarity, profanity and crazy adventures of this bumbling drunkard continue. Sent to Toronto on special assignment by the RCMP’s Section K, the hapless drunk stumbles into the Sheppard subway line in an attempt to solve the latest insane and unsolvable mystery!

Everyone knows a Howard Plank and every one wishes to be as hip a writer as Timothy Carter. Timothy Carter is one of those writers that I just keep going back to when in need of a laugh. I have lent out Section K a few times and now have actually lost track of who has my last copy of it. I am afraid Kasefile 42 is going to find the same fate!

Section K, Kasefile 42 – The Demon Subway of North York is 13 pages long and perfect for anyone who doesn’t have the time for a novel, yet needs to take a brain break from the chaos of the day.

Bio
Timothy Carter was born in Farnham, England during the week of the final lunar mission, and he turned 13 on Friday the 13th. He is a novelist, screenwriter, movie lover and Transformers fanatic.

Nashira Dernesch has an interesting way of presenting lists with a stiletto echo.  The preface poem “some days she never forgets her own face” carries a list into the fourth line, then the following action is still stark and list-ish, twisting and turning simples words and phases into one another toward the end :

on the bus, in the grocery store, at home
eating cereal alone in the dark
to save on hydro some days she feels
her face as a mask and is startled
by the eves she looks out of and in to.
surprised she isn’t someone else
and wonders whose face she thought
she was wearing.

I like lists, and when they twist and turn into one another.  It reminds me of bpNichol’s work from so long ago.

Dernesch uses that same careful articulation on the physical depiction in “114 King St.”:

Home was the shining iron stove grate
she threw easy as a saucer
at his head, his breadwinner body
hulking in the doorway. At dinner,
she picked up a fork in her elegant hand
and stabbed his thick forearm,
the corner cupboard watching.

Poem after poem in this collection is edgy and exacting and easy on the ear.  It makes sense the first print sold out so quickly and another was immediately produced.

Bio – Nashira Dernesch was raised in St. Jacobs, Ontario, and studied at the University of Toronto before being accepted into York University’s Creative Writing Program. She was co-editor of the literary journal Existere for three years. In 2006, she won the Art Bar Poetry Series’ Annual Discovery Night. Her first published work, It’s No Secret You’ll Feel Better, sold out within the first two days of publication and is now in its second printing. It is reviewed next.

One of my favourite things about chapbooks is they are a quick, easy read. I go through phases of readers ADD and can’t seem to make it through novels. In order to quench mine or anyones thirst for horror the Burning Effigy Horror line is perfect for that or for those who simply love scaring themselves. Every book that this small press puts out seems to get better and scarier. I’ve always been a fan of creeping myself out and Fresh Blood does just that.

Fresh Blood has three things going for it right off the bat. The combination of the authors, the level of horror and quality of writing. Each of the writers styles are completely different, yet compliment each other perfectly.The three stories in Fresh Blood are, Growth Spurts by Dave Alexander, Left for Dead by Kelli Dunlap and Mourn Not The Sleepless Children by Bob Freeman.

With many short story book compilations there is an intertwining theme. In the case of Fresh Blood what connects the three stories in my opinion is children. A teenage boys body going through some horrific changes, a mother’s revenge against the atrocities against her young daughter and a governess led to the possible slaughter. Even evil children shouldn’t mess with a powerful magick man.

Burning Effigy’s Horror collection is growing with every new season. Stop by their website to pick up a copy of Fresh Blood and the other horror titles. They are normally priced at around $8.00 each and well worth every penny.

For more information or bio’s on the three authors of Fresh Blood, check out these links:

http://kellidunlap.com/
http://rue-morgue.com/rmp_rue_crew.php
http://authorbobfreeman.wordpress.com/

These works present as poems of being. They are a series of (mostly short) imagistic vignettes. “Douglas, at 9 or 10” reads:

sneaks off after school to see
Singing in the Rain for a nickel.
He slips hoe to find his father
has stolen the money
mother warned him to hide.
What Douglas earns for the bricks he lays,
stacked like hope upon hope, against him.

The narrative in this is clear and to me reading it is like watching a stone skim, skip and sink. First it appears to be a poem of being, a narrative of time and place, and then when the momentum finally rests the depth is suggested in the final line.

“Ships That Pass In The Night” has a similar shape, first describing the coming home and leaving another in bed, the moving toward the “shimmering / around me” which feels like the poem’s impulse. “The comfort of a stranger’s wrist” plays the same chord. It presents details “from the back seat / of a midnight Greyhound” and move toward the ah-ha that there is longing, suggested in the line “it’s been too long.”

The collection is short, well-bound and pleasant with graceful crafting. They are not poems of scream, but poems of breath.

Bio – Nashira Dernesch was raised in St. Jacobs, Ontario, and studied at the University of Toronto before being accepted into York University’s Creative Writing Program. She was co-editor of the literary journal Existere for three years. In 2006, she won the Art Bar Poetry Series’ Annual Discovery Night. Her first published work, It’s No Secret You’ll Feel Better, sold out within the first two days of publication and is now in its second printing. It is reviewed next.

When a man’s relationship grows more distant and finally ends, inconveniently right before heading off on vacation, his life takes on an unusual twist. Set partly in Hawthorn Hill, Neil Keller’s journey to a cabin in the woods starts to grow eerie quickly. After finding a Hawthorn figure things get even stranger.

Written by the critically acclaimed horror author Richard Gavin, Primeval Woods is another creepy tale not to be read alone or while alone in a cabin. Stories set in the woods always have a dark, shadowy ambiance that adds to the dark mood and Hawthorn Hills is perfectly fitting.

Thirty-five pages long, I was able to finish Primeval Woods in one sitting. In the case of this chapbook, I had to as from beginning to end I was so enraptured by the book, I couldn’t put it down. The super freaky ending ties a fantastic story all together. Richard Gavin is a deft and skillful story teller who knows how to capture a readers attention from the first paragraph.

If you want something that a bit different and an easy read, you won’t want to pass up the chance to read Primeval Woods.

Bio
Richard Gavin is the author of two critically-acclaimed horror collections, Charnel Wine and Omens, as well as dozens of other published tales of the macabre and the occult. A regular contributor to Rue Morgue magazine, Richard lives and dreams darkly in Ontario, Canada, with his beloved wife and their brood.

Rumours of his being born with a forked tongue and vestigial tail remain unsubstantiated.

This twenty-page chapbook starts with “Dios le bendiga,” a stark psychological sketch of a woman who needs her baby cured of syphilis. She blames herself for her rape, for her husband’s infidelity, and through his infidelity for her baby’s sickness. It’s creepy, in that good ‘oou I get it’ kind of way. It is believable and precise with lines that stagger rhythmically like “My uncle came by drunk from a lost cockfight.” The line speaks a 3-3-2 beat to me. This sense of beat and music carries through the collection.

There are some parts that seem a little overly poetic to my ear. Again I look to a line from that first poem, “Blood ran down my leg like prickly pear juice.” It seems, how can I put this, like something that is a little too pretty and perfect (in it’s ugliness). Perhaps it is that the simile rings as the poet would say, but not the I-voice of the tragic figure speaking in the poem. So it leaves me with a reduced sense of authenticity of the tale.

Still I am amazed at the complexity of the narrative comes out as clearly and quickly and specifically as it does, and with the musicality. These traits are consistent through the book, as is the actively attentive movement forward through difficult emotional moments. This is not Hallmark Card poetry.

The collection is definitely worth reading and Jan Steckel’s writing is definitely worth following into the future.

Bio – Jan Steckel is a bisexual activist and a Harvard- and Yale-trained former pediatrician. Over a hundred of her short stories, poems and nonfiction pieces have appeared in print and online publications such as Scholastic Magazine, Yale Medicine, Red Rock Review, So to Speak and Redwood Coast Review. Her work has won writing awards and has been widely reprinted and anthologized. Her writing has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize: once for nonfiction and once for poetry. She served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic.

It’s been quite some time since I have been able to say that I’ve read a horror novel that is serious competition for today great author’s of the genre. Being a fan and great lover of all things macabre I thought I had read some of the best and have verbalized my disappointment in any new horror fiction lining bookstore shelves doubting there was anyone out there who could possibly give horror greats such as Stephen King, a run for their money. I’m about to eat my words.

Joseph D’Lacey’s Garbage Man is by far some of the best horror fiction I have read in many moons. He moves the readers seamlessly through several story lines, stories that will eventually bring the characters all to one very disturbing and unsuspected ending.

Once Joseph D’Lacey leads the reader to the first climax he is relentless and doesn’t allow you to catch your breath for the rest of the way through. When the horror begins you will remain on the edge of your seat up till the last word, of the last sentence of the last page. The weak of heart should not pass go but find there way directly to page 345. For the rest of us, savor every moment and prepare yourself, the Garbage Man is out there and he’s hungry!

Bio
Joseph D’Lacey was born in London and has spent most of his life in the midlands. He is the author of MEAT and Garbage Man.

“My mother warned me never to tell stories that aren’t true. It’s been great fun ignoring her advice.”

By day he runs an acupuncture practice (sticking needles into people and making little dolls scream). Between patients (victims) he writes all manner of disturbingly entertaining fiction.

He lives in Northamptonshire with his wife and daughter.

With lines such as “The air was completely still and odorless…” Richard S. Todd seems to be a writer who could just as easily slip into poetry and govern it as seamlessly as he does crime fiction. This is a book I was recommending five chapters in.

The death of Jimmy Raincloud seems to open up old wounds between the native population of Scanlon Creek and the rest of the town. Detective Hank Gillespie steps across borders with the weight of Scanlon’s strange history in his blood. At the root of the tension is a terrible massacre. Reverend Walter Tillman, took the lives of his native parishioners, then escaped while in police custody. When Jimmy becomes the first of many Native murder victims, Hank feels that the spirit of the Reverend is somehow behind the evil that has poisoned his town. Along with his new partner Stephanie Whirlwind, Gillespie tries to quell racial tensions and solve this multilayered crime.

This is not your typical crime novel. Raincloud could easily be appreciated as a new form of noir legend. A book to read in mist, a book to read in a rainstorm, one is easily lost in the haunting small town of Scanlon Creek.

Bio:
A magazine writer and pop composer living near Toronto, Canada, Richard S. Todd is a fervent champion for those fighting to overcome personal struggles and make choices to resist the perpetuation of racial isolation. Raincloud is his debut novel.

His next novel, The Orphans of the Creek, is currently in development. Description: When a small town DJ’s only goal is to satisfy his voracious appetites, he sets himself onto a path of violence and destruction. A book that must be read to be believed, it serves as testimony that not all DJs are just about the music. Based on a true story? You be the judge. Click on the Books tab for a preview!

Richard is also the founder of Sky Lake Entertainment, an organization dedicated to promoting literacy to the Greater Toronto Area.

When was the last time you read a book that moved you? Made you laugh one minute, cry the next, question yourself after reading a passage or had you think hard about your own mortality? The last book that moved me this way was ‘The Lovely Bones’ by Alice Sebold. You Never Know, a biographical story, about the traumatic events that changed Romy Shillers life for ever, is the book that took me on that turbulent roller coaster ride.

As the reader, you are taken along on the journey with Romy. She allows you a glimpse into her life, past, present and hopefully her future. As you ride along you will laugh, cry and clap for this extraordinary woman. Her story makes you think hard about how precious life is and how it can change in a fraction of a second. Many would have crumbled under these circumstances by Romy Shiller raises to the occasion over and over again.

You Never Know is an inspirational book that everyone should read, as it proves to you, that determination and a will to rise above should never be doubted and Romy Shiller will prove it to you.

Bio
Romy Shiller is a pop culture critic and holds a Ph.D. in Drama from the University of Toronto. Her academic areas of concentration include film, gender performance, camp and critical thought. She lives in Montreal where she continues her writing.

Watch Romy on CBC News: Sunday at www.cbc.ca.

Naked Lens reads like an encyclopedia of Beatnik Cinema. If you are looking to learn about the crème de la crème of the artists who brought Beatnik Cinema to life, this is a great resource book to have on your shelf.

Author Jack Sargeant is very detailed when discussing such greats as David Cronenberg, William S. Burroughs and John Cassavetes. The book is also full of classic snapshots from many of the movies mentioned, in depth interviews and witty dialogue.

A great resource, Naked Lens shouldn’t be overlooked, but before you pick up a copy be warned, this book isn’t for the average bear, rather, more for the die hard lover of Beatnik or student of Cinema. As I said earlier it does tend to read more like an encyclopedia, but the information inside is brilliantly organized and lends the reader the ability to grasp why the Beatnik movement became so popular.

Biography
Since 1995 Jack Sargeant has written and contributed to numerous books on underground film, including: Deathtripping: The Cinema of Transgression, about Cinema of Transgression filmmakers such as Richard Kern and Nick Zedd, Naked Lens: Beat Cinema, and Cinema Contra Cinema, a collection of essays on alternative film. He is the editor of the journal Suture, and has co-edited two volumes Lost Highways: An Illustrated History of the Road Movie (with Stephanie Watson) and No Focus: Punk on Film (with Chris Barber). In 2007 Deathtripping was republished by Soft Skull Press.

He has contributed to numerous books on subjects ranging from Andy Warhol movies to road rage and car crash songs and his work has been included in collections such as Mikita Brottman’s Car Crash Culture, Mendick & Harper’s Underground USA, Wollen & Kerr’s Autopia, among others.

He has also authored and edited true crime books including Born Bad, Death Cults, Bad Cop Bad Cop, and Guns, Death Terror’. These books have featured contributions from Monte Cazazza, Michael Spann, Andrew Leavold, John Harrison, Simon Whitechapel, Chris Barber, and others.

Jack has written introductions for Joe Coleman’s Book of Joe and photographer Romain Slocombe’s Tokyo Sex Underground.

He has contributed to publications such as Headpress as well as Panik, The Wire, Fortean Times and Bizarre magazine, as well as academic journals such as Senses of Cinema and M/C.

Between 2001-2003 he was film editor at large for Sleazenation. Jack has written cover notes for DVDs by various underground and independent filmmakers, including the British Film Institute’s DVD release of Kirby Dick’s film Sick: The Life And Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist.

Jack has appeared in numerous film and TV documentaries on culture and film, as well as having cameos in underground films. He has also appeared on recordings by the experimental group I/O.

He has promoted and organized shows for filmmakers and artists at the Horse Hospital in London and Cinematheque in Brighton, UK, and has also toured film festivals in America, Europe, and Australia, including the New York Underground Film Festival, the Chicago Underground Film Festival, Melbourne Underground Film Festival, Brisbane International Film Festival, and Sydney Underground Film Festival. In 2002 and 2003 he collaborated with Simon Kane on The Salon, an annual event that has featured performances by David Tibet, Cosey Fanni Tutti, and Cotton Ferox.

He is currently curator of the Revelation – Perth International Film Festival 2008.

Enter a masked man. Not your averaged masked man, but a masked man who not only has a mask tattooed on his face but has a mask sewn over top the first mask. Captain Nothing isn’t your typical superhero, no he is psychotic, unconventionally violent, and doesn’t feel the need to jump right in when he sees someone in danger. He waits out the perfect opportunity, like merging into traffic.

Nothing To Lose has a definite 1930‘s Pulp Fiction feel to it as the texture of the dialogue was dark, gritty with a twist of vintage. Pulp fiction as a genre is always very colour in it’s language and it’s use of hero’s. It was most popular during the Depression and WWII, a time when the world needed hero’s the most. Nothing To Lose, uses a similar style of writing that would make Pulp Fiction writers of the lost era proud.

The chap book itself is broken into three stories. “The Glint of Moonlight on Broken Glass,” “Lamprey Fellatio,” and “The Meat Axe of Love.” I found the first two stories fun and intriguing, with both having connecting characters and of the three stories, the first is definitely the best. I was disappointed with the third story as it didn’t have the same momentum as the first two. I was hoping the hero of the story Captain Nothing would have stirred up more violence, but he didn’t and for me was a let down.

Bio:
Born and raised in the woods of Northern Ontario in a little town called Capreol – an old word that roughly translated means “The place where the railroad tracks cross and nothing else happens”. I grew up full of stories, heard from my grandfather and told by the railroad men and fabricated out of whole cloth from the weavings of my snowbound mind. First practical use for storytelling – to escape the bullying of larger tougher kids I wrote plays and cast them in the various roles thus guaranteeing them an easy mark with minimum effort. Survival of the crafty, Darwin probably never dreamed about this.

I moved to Nova Scotia when I was seventeen. Came to visit my mother, Madge Chatelois – the storytelling lady of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Came and stayed, because I fell in love with the Atlantic Ocean.

I’ve been right across Canada since then. Have worked as a factory hand, house painter, field worker, tree planter, roustabout, woodworker, artist’s model, fiddlehead picker, blueberry raker, woodchopper, warehouse strawboss, snow shoveller, garden digger, environmental criminal and anything else that paid a buck. I currently make my living as a professional tarot and palm reader. Come visit me in Halifax, Nova Scotia at Little Mysteries on Barrington Street.

The smartest choice I ever made was marrying Belinda Ferguson, Halifax’s best bellydance instructor and the toughest woman on the planet, (she’s able to put up with me). She’s my light and inspiration and my very best friend. I live in happiness with Connor, my stepson and costar and occasional guest appearances by Sarah Skye Vernon, my daughter and best creation, and Morticia, (Tish for short), a black cat who thinks she’s a dog. Add to that my family of blue jays, Belinda’s clan of crows, and a half dozen stray cats who think that my yew bush is a perfect place to mark their turf, and you will witness a perfectly Feng Shui’d masterpiece of magnificent chaos.

Sewn through the pages of this website you’ll find snippets and excerpts from a few of my fifty odd (and I do mean odd) short stories. If you like what you read, check out my check out my novella LONG HORN, BIG SHAGGY, from Black Death Books.

The first chapter of Reproduce and Revolt starts you off with ‘A Brief History of the Reproducible Political Graphic,’ a section explaining to the reader, that “Every single image compiled here is intended to be reprinted and reused by activist, organizers, artists and designers committed to social justice and a radical restructuring of our society.” The entire book, is a how to for the potential or already well versed activist.

The book itself is filled with black and white art, written in both Spanish and English and it’s eleven sections (Social Welfare, Labor/Capitalism, Repression, the Environment, Transportation, Gender/Sexuality, Culture/Media, War/Peace, Solidarity) contain works of artists from several countries including Canada, US, Mexico, South America, and Europe.

One of the important messages of this book is how to make social change and Reproduce and Revolt has a very simple step by step on how to do this, step one being determine your audience and the final step explaining how to distribute your ideas to your audience. Starting a revolution has never been easier.

Determining your audience is definitely something this book has done. It contains a great mix of graphics that anyone can use to get their messages across. A perfect book for true believers and activists alike.

Bios:

Josh MacPhee is a street artist, designer, curator, and activist. A street stenciler and poster maker for over a decade, he also runs a radical art distribution project, justseeds.org, as a way to develop and distribute t-shirts, posters, and stickers with revolutionary content. He organizes the Celebrate People’s History Poster Project, an ongoing poster series in which different artists create posters to document and remember moments in radical history. He also collectively organizes agit-prop cultural actions with ad-hoc groups of artists under various organizational names such as Department of Space and Land Reclamation and Street.Rec. His work has been profiled by publications such as Clamor Magazines, In These Times, Utne Magazine, and many others.

Favianna Rodriguez is an Oakland-based printmaker and institution builder,
Her dynamic political prints and posters tell a history of social justice, capturing the daily sentiments of a people in daily struggle, to document their efforts and celebrate their victories. Favianna’s work attempts to reclaim public space – community centers, streets, billboards – and to redefine that space through art, through youth workshops, and through the establishment of collective cultural spaces. Favianna is co-Founder of the EastSide Arts Alliance (ESAA), a third world collective of artists and activists working to empower the Oakland community through art and culture. She is also the co-owner of Tumi’s, a multi-service technology and design firm. Implementing advanced graphic & web technologies with a social consciousness, Tumi’s seeks to use multimedia to engender global communication between oppressed communities and to promote political technology and open forums of expression. In 2003, Favianna co-founded the Taller Tupac Amaru, with the mission of producing and distributing screen printed political poster. With her signature energy and zeal, Favianna travels to share her inspirational work with others abroad. She has lectured numerously in Tokyo and Mexico City about the role of art and culture in community building.

Along the highways of the Southwestern, USA you will find hundreds of crosses signifying shrines for the dead. Occasionally you will see mourners at these shrines trying to contact the dead. The Redemption Roadshow is the average human’s chance at doing just that. After being introduced to the main characters, Dolan Gibb, a lone highway patrolman, Reverend Boscoe, The Long Cool Woman and the Redemption Roadshow’s ragtag fleet, you are quickly emerged in a story of spiritual journeys, regret and redemption.

The characters of the Redemption Roadshow instantly entice you into the smooth flow of the emotionally charged story. You find yourself empathizing with the main character Dolan Gibb’s plight to settle his inner demon’s when he realizes his entire life may have been a waste causing him to stir on the edge of how to fix it.

I read this book in an hour and a half and was left wanting more. I closed the book thinking what a wonderfully written story it, but, I want more, needed more. Of course I mean that in a good way, in a greedy way. I was so entranced with the Long Cool Woman, her legend and her mystery, that I want to know more and hear more stories. The Long Cool Woman is a character that could one day become one those urban legends that always starts from a great story. I am really hoping that the stories do continue as I would love to see where the Redemption Roadshow bus goes.

Bio
Weston is the author of the novels Scarecrow Gods, Recalled to Life, The Golden Thread, Vampire Outlaw of the Milky Way and a slew of short stories and articles that have appeared in comic books, professional writing guides, magazines and anthologies. He won the Bram Stoker award for Superior Achievement in First Novel in 2005 for Scarecrow Gods and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize for Fiction in 2003. He lives in Southern Arizona with his wife, Yvonne Navarro, and Great Danes, Pester Ghost Palm Eater and Goblin Monster Dog. For entertainment he races tarantula wasps, wrestles rattlesnakes, and watches Border Patrol Death Race 2000.

I embarked on my very first online book with Shawn Parker’s “Night Has Fallen”. Sure I had a copy, but could I find it? No, not until yesterday. Now that my online book cherry has been broken, I look forward to the next.

“Night Has Fallen” is a suspense novel done with a slight nod towards “Deliverance”. Four friends, out for a pre-marriage adventure in the woods, find themselves fighting for survival. Shawn does an excellent job at convincing the reader first of the friendships of the four men, and then later, does even more justice to the unravelling and revealing of how superficial their bond actually is.

However, there is a subplot surrounding one of the characters whose identity is slow to reveal. This becomes cumbersome for most of the book until the latter half, where the imagery is so haunting, it starts to overshadow the main plot line. Two images have stuck with me vividly. First, boys in a mud puddle cheerfully tearing apart a venomous snake. The other image is of the main couple, under netting sleeping side by side with so much repellant piled on their legs to combat bugs and parasites, that they cannot touch each other, lest a layer is lost.

As a result of this subplot, the character it surrounds is poorly developed in the main story and forgettable for most of the book. The final chapter is also confusing and I even wonder if it was meant for the same book, or should it have been listed as an afterword? Or is this one giant blonde moment brought on by reading small print on my I Touch? Since the main story is so strong, I question why Shawn Parker included the other bits at all, it can well stand on it’s own.

Bio

Shawn Parker is an accomplished screenwriter and this is his first novel. He works in Toronto but lives someplace else. He likes the Atlantic ocean, Robert Goulet and tickets to the gun show. He does not like pirate hookers, Ron Burgundy or the letter Q. He is left handed, right brained and was fond of bleaching his hair for a time. It is now graying and that disappoints him. His second novel is coming in 2008 whether you like it or not. He is hoping that you will.

Clarissa is not only a young man’s obsession, but the perfect tragic figure in a short story written by Mike Page.  Mike aptly pulls the writer into the quick pace of the story through easy to follow details and story line.  Using multiple characters and chaos right from the get go, it catches the readers attention immediately with the momentum building right to the end of the story.

Teenagers, crushes, unrequited love, angst and tragedy are all part of the story and normally sounds like the perfect synopsis for a horror movie, and it is all the things that make From Clarissa a defined tale of horror. Most of today’s successful horror movies are cast with teenagers or young adults and Mike Page uses this to his advantage in his short story.

You can check out his story at www.fantastichorror.com, a website dedicated to tales of horror.

Bio
After a few successes and many, many failures, Mike Page’s goals haven’t changed much over the years: to write stuff that makes people say, “Yes! Awesome!” while touching the heart and stimulating the mind and all that crap. Enjoy.

Mostly True, instantly throws the reader into the fascinating world of the life of the boxcar hobo through fascinating newspaper ad, articles, photos of wood carvings and hobo graffiti. As I read deeper into the book I was reminded of footage from the Depression era showing hobo’s living along side of the railway and building communities around barrels of fire. During the 1930’s there was a slew of movies depicting ‘Tramps’ as the folly that kept police constables busy.

Mostly True: The West’s Most Popular Hobo Graffiti Magazine lives up to it’s title, each page is full of interesting stories, interviews, art and photography. Though the book itself is perfect bound (a type of binding technic for books), it reads more like a magazine or zine that may have originally been sold in separate editions. Whether or not it is the case Bill Daniel is expert at keeping the flow of the book fresh and exciting from cover to cover.

Mosty True treats you to many aspects of a Hobo’s life on the rails including documentary style snippets of both historical and modern tales and photo’s. However, the most interesting parts of the book are when you get a taste of the graffiti of graffiti legends Colossus of Roads, and Bozo Texino.

Mostly True is a great read that you will likely re-read a few times. Like a great photo or piece of art you will find something new in the graffiti each time you look at it.

Bio
Texas-born, San Francisco exile, and confirmed tramp, Bill Daniel continues to experiment with survivalism and bricolage in his attempts to record and report on the various social margins he often finds himself in. Working without an art or film school education, he endeavors to make work that connects with an outsider audience. His work began in 1980 as he participated in and photo documented the blossoming punk rock scene in Austin, Texas. Since then his subcultural documentary subjects have included bicycle messengers, radical environmentalists, hobo graffiti artists, swap meet guitar players, rural drag racers, and “water squatters”–outlaw anchored live-aboards. His study and love for documentary photography and filmmaking has given Daniel the charge to create work that communicates across socioeconomic boundaries. Drawing from his backgrounds in studio photography, experimental media and the construction trades, Daniel builds site-specific viewing environments as a method for deploying non-linear documentary material within an allegorical, interactive setting.

Daniel’s work has received awards from Creative Capital, Film Arts Foundation, The Pioneer Fund, Texas Filmmaker Production Fund, the R & B Feder Charitable Foundation, and The Western States Media Alliance. He was a Wattis Foundation artist-in-residence at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, where his installation “Souls Harbor” was exhibited in Dec. In 1999 he was in-residence at The Headlands Center for the Arts where he produced several multi-projection 16mm film installations, including “Trespassing Sign” in collaboration with the late Margaret Kilgallen. In 2001 his hobo campfire installation “The Girl on the Train in the Moon” was included in “Widely Unknown” at Deitch Projects in New York. A veteran of the touring scene, Daniel has programmed, booked and exhibited several mobile art shows, including the Lucky Bum Film Tour with partner Vanessa Renwick. In 1997-98 he curated a weekly screening series, Funhouse Cinema, in Austin, that also regularly screened in Houston and San Antonio. Daniel is also recognized for his work as cinematographer and editor for filmmaker Craig Baldwin. Other endeavors include publishing two zines–The Western Roundup, a punk fanzine in 1981-82, and Detour, a situationist journal in 1986. He is also the creator of an experimental sports league, The Texas Gas-Powered Leaf Blower Hockey Association.

A typical saying in Southern Italian culture is that there are no homosexuals south of Rome. It’s a macho statement about who the real men are. Female homosexuality isn’t something discussed past “Aunt Rosa never married”. Coming out in this environment entails the possibility of not only losing one’s family, but also losing one’s culture.

Cristy C. Road’s “Indestructible” follows Road’s high school experience and her sexual awakening within the Miami Cuban community. Cristy lives in a world where men are macho, women are curvy and sexy and that is all. There is little wiggle room to be different, let alone to be a bisexual punk. Her sexuality raises questions in her about being Latin in the queer community and whether her queerness makes her too “white”. Additionally, she bristles when she is referred to as a “dyke” or a “lesbian” since these labels don’t apply to her either. As the book progresses, we see Cristy become less and less hard on herself and more and more accepting of who she is until, through tragedy, she eventually realizes that she needs to let herself be alive.

Written with incredible honesty, wit, and insight, “Indestructible” tells a compelling story about a quest for identity and self-acceptance. While the book concentrates on Cristy’s sexual awakening, it is also a story about finding one’s place in the world when one’s personality doesn’t fit into a nice box. It’s the story of every misfit who is trying to navigate their own feelings while trying to avoid being pigeon-holed and stereotyped.

Bio
Cristy C. Road has been illustrating ideas, people, and places, ever since she learned how to hold a crayon. Blending the inevitable existence of social principles, cultural identity, sexual identity, mental inadequacies, and dirty thoughts- Road thrives to testify the beauty of the imperfect.

Cristy Road, a Cuban- American from Miami, FL, went to Ringling School of Art and Design, wher many arguments on commercialism and the representation of women in Illustration took place. Her endeavors in illustrating and publishing began when writing a punk rock zine, Greenzine, for ten years. While today, Road has moved onto illustrated novels, taking both writing and visual elements a step more seriously, her visual diagram of lifestyles and beliefs stay in tune to the zine’s portrayal of living honestly and unconventionally. In a spread featured in Curve Magazine , Jocelyn Voo notes “At 14, the Florida native started Greenzine, an alternative zine that focused primarily on the politics of punk rock and the honesty of adolescence. Roughly nine years later, Greenzine (and Road too) has evolved to encompass maturing ideas of gender, race, sexual liberation, and cultural identity.” However, Voo enthuses, “Greenzine is far from the only thing on this dynamo’s plate. Road’s illustrations, each one a detailed manifesto, have appeared in various magazines and as contributions to punk rock bands.”

Cristy Road graduated in 2004 with bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Illustration, whether or not the administration at her school irritated her. Roughly two years after that, her repertoire consists of ten years of independent publishing, two graphic novels, and countless illustrations for a broad slew of magazines, record album art, concert posters, and political organizations.

In early 2006, Road released an anomalous illustrated storybook, entitled INDESTRUCTIBLE. It’s a 96-page narrative about her experience as a teenager, where Road tackles the themes of being Latina, class, rebellion, gender, queerness, mental health, and death; all beneath the topical umbrella of being a teenage Floridian punk rocker in the early 90’s. Road has recently completed a Collection of postcards featuring art from 2001-2007, entitled DISTANCE MAKES THE HEART GROW SICK [Microcosm Publishing]. Road just concluded BAD HABITS, a fictional illustrated novel due out in the Fall [Soft Skull Press]. Road toured with SISTER SPIT in 2007, and has been featured in various literary anthologies. With no means to slow down, Road currently draws, paints, writes, obsesses over pop-punk bands, and hibernates in Brooklyn, NY. She is a Gemini.

There are many types of Jazz, ranging from smooth to free style. It’s a style of music that has been around since the late 1800’s that is ever evolving. In order to play Jazz music successfully you need to be well honed and educated in your skill. The same goes for poetry. I’ve read some bad poetry in my time right along side the amazing stuff and Dale Percy definitely fits in the category of amazing.

Jazz and poetry tend to go hand in hand. Both are rhythmic and melodic and should sound beautiful when either spoken or done in a sing song type tone. Many Jazz musicians are poets and many poets have become Jazz musicians. When listening to poetry being read out loud you have often heard the phrase ‘music to my ears’ being used and there is good reason for that. Listen closely, poetry is music. Everyone’s Everyman is definitely poetry to these reviewers’ ears.

Dale Percy’s set opens with the smooth workings of Jazzoetry, quickly moves us to the blues with romantic flows of Loveless Blues and Jennie on the Road and wraps up with Overnight, a poem that I can imagine being read with a strong percussion in the background. Each poem moves seamlessly from one to the other, making you want to continue to move to the next without ever stopping to put the book down, never needing or wanting a break. With each poem I could easily imagine what kind of beat or musician would be playing along with it.

Though Dale Percy doesn’t consider himself a musician, his poetry is as beautifully written as any Miles Davis tune you will find out there. Pick up a copy of Everyone’s Everyman, throw on your favorite jazz tunes and enjoy.

Bio
Dale Percy is a Writer – professionally and personally. Professionally, Dale is a Creative Writer, who has been penning radio commercials, promos and the like for year. This has brought him income, professional satisfaction and even garnered him an industry award. Personally, Dale is a Jazz Poet, letting all his true feelings, thoughts and emotions out on paper, trying to echo the phrasings of Jack Kerouac, Charlie Parker, Langston Hughes, Robert Johnson, Kenneth Rexroth and Miles Davis, to name a few. What does this mean? Nothing. It is all speculation about one man, provided by the author himself. Truthfully, you’ll take away what you want when you read this book, or if you know, hear about or ever meet him. However, for all his quirks, inabilities and strangeness of personality, there is one thing he would like you to remember: Dale Percy is a Writer.

Along the lines of the The Chronicals of Narnia, Anika and the Magic Top is the tale of young twelve year old girl named Anika who goes on a magical adventure after finding a magical portal. In Anika’s case it is a spinning top in her mother’s garden. After spinning the top she is transported off to the land of Animalia. In this magical land where she makes many new friends and one dire enemy. The top is Anika’s only way back to earth and when the evil Opossum King steals it from her, Anika must match wits with him in order to get it back so she can return to earth and her family.

Though Anika and the Magical Top is categorized as a children’s book, adults will enjoy it just the same. It’s refreshing to read books that take children on mythical type journies. We have writers such as C.S. Lewis, Ronald Dahl and J.K. Rowling to thank for inspring writers such as Caroline Blaha-Black to create such wonderful characters as Anika, Cleo, Max and Zarr. There are more children’s books forthcoming from Ms. Blaha-Black and we look forward to reading them.

Bio
Caroline Blaha-Black is a pen for hire and a woman who spends her days writing, travelling, doing karate, bytching, eating artisan breads and playing with her pets. She has written a ton of articles for online and printed publications, topics ranging from environment, how-tos, and spirituality to personal essays, slice-of-life and many other topics. She is also an avid fan of entering writing contests and winning them (well, sometimes). She is currently shopping her two children’s books to publishers and agents. Check out her blog at www.karolinablahablack.blogspot.com.

A good autobiography is candid, smart, insightful and honest. BFF (Brainfag Forever) by Nate Beaty is candid and honest, but doesn’t provide the reader with the type of self-examination that one would expect. Beaty seems to expect that readers — or at least critics — will be disappointed, though, since the copyright notice states, “Thou shalt not steal my comic except little bits to accompany your scathing review”. When you start off like this, where can you go?

BFF quickly shuffles the reader through the years before the publishing of the first issue of Brainfag and then drags the reader along Nate Beaty’s self-deprecating and somewhat obsessive reflections on the eight years after that.

It’s pretty rare that anyone gets a glimpse into what goes on in the mind of an artist, but Beaty does a good job of giving the reader that glimpse. He shows how his work affects those around him (current girlfriends jealous of his depiction of ex-girlfriends, for example) and how those around him affect his work (bad breakups fuel his juices, good relationships dry them up). At times, BFF is almost philosophical: Beaty poignantly describes the frustration of pouring time, energy and soul into a creative piece, only to have it almost universally disliked.

Unfortunately, the mind of an artist can also become obsessive. While it is interesting to see Beaty’s inner dialogue behind his quest for a unique personal style, it drags on at times and becomes tedious, making it difficult to keep reading. The cramped writing, sometimes crude drawings and stream-of-consciousness style is more akin to a writer’s block diary than an autobiography.

The book relies too much on the petty details of day to day life and not enough on thoughtful self-examination to make it a really satisfied read. The narrative can get confusing because of the often cramped writing and disorganized pages. While interesting in starts and spurts, only the most die-hard Ned Beaty/Brainfag fan may really get total enjoyment from BFF.

Bio
BFF: Brainfag Forever! collects nearly a decade of Nate Beaty’s self-published comics. Brainfag is a medical term for “brain fatigue,” culled from a turn-of-the-century Grape-Nuts ad. Nate uses comics to explore self-expression, love and love lost, urban existence versus living off the grid, balancing art and coding on the computer, and generally maintaining sanity in a world gone mad. Featuring extensive new material explaining each issue, including the first 25 years of his life in five pages! Climb inside the head of a cartoonist using comics as cheap therapy.

Invincible Summer: An Anthology II is the next installment to nicole j. georges original and brilliantly written graphic novel Invincible Summer. Both volumes are a complication of her individual zines (volume II includes zine issues nine through fourteen), zine that are representative of nicoles life through art, poems, stories and anecdotes.

Volume II includes stories that take you through the next four years of nicoles life. With each zine we experience her trials and tribulations of life as though we are standing beside her. I found myself (as many will) empathizing with nicoles wanting to get ahead in life, love of all things furry, and trying to maintain a life that makes her happy.

I have many favorite pieces, but the most memorable was in issue 12 called Witchery. Of all her stories this one hit home the most with both emotion and humour. A friendship ended due to deception and when the other party starts having bad things happen to them, you find yourself cheering nicole on for getting revenge with a little help from karma.

As with Volume I, these are books to be cherished by women of all ages. Both speak volumes about how using our voice, whether it be verbal, written or artistic, can make a difference. nicole has a continuous solid message reminding us to be kind to animals and to do what we can to stop unnecessary abuse.

One thing that I wish there was more of in volume two, is the vegan recipes. I enjoyed how they popped up like candies found on a treasure hunt through out Volume One. If nicole does a Volume Three I hope she decides to include more of them.

Bio
Nicole J. George’s captures her adventures and thoughts in unique, heartfelt illustrations & stories. Five years of dog mothering, chicken raising, coffee-shop crushes, drama, low paying jobs, heartbreaking romance, inspiring friendships, Vegan snacks, & more! This exhaustive collection will take the reader on a whirlwind tour through Nicole’s personality, wit, and charm! This second edition collects issues #1-8 of her zine and features 38 new, additional pages! Recently featured on the Sister Spit tour!

Welcome to the world of DIY bike repair. Written by two professional bike repair experts, this book screams at you to ‘get er done’ yourself. No longer will you need to wait days for the return of your thrifty wheels from an over priced shop, rather, the very detailed how to guide gives you all the necessary information, including a very thorough list of all the tools of the trade you will ever need, to repair your own bike.

The authors of this book are not only professional bike repair experts, but artists as well. (This being very obvious throughout the second half of the Chainbreaker bike book). The zines in the book are apparently reprints, as all the originals were lost during hurricane Katrina. You will find stories of New Orleans cleverly weaned through out the pages.

Most DIY repair books tend to be long winded and complicated. Chain Breaker breaks the monotony of such things through sometimes anecdotic explanations of how to’s and what you needs. If you are an avid rider or someone who likes the occasional Sunday ride, this book is something you may want to consider to have on your shelf.


Invincible Summer is a compilation of several of Nicole J. George’s journal entries that were incorporated into zines and are now in the form of this truly wonderful book. Inside you will find the first 8 issues of Nicole J. George’s quirky and emotionally charged autobiographical stories, that are perfect for the punk rock soul or the everyday individual who is searching for their path in life. Coffee, dogs and romance will always be found cleverly knitted into many of the well written and beautifully illustrated tales.

Being a cookbook geek and junkie I thoroughly enjoyed the Vegan recipes intertwined within her stories. Also included amongst her illustrations are photos of the rescued animals she met during her internship at the Animal Sanctuary in California. Nicole’s adventures at the animal sanctuary will definitely pull at your heart strings.

This is a book that is meant to be read on a hot summers evening, on a patio, porch or balcony, with a big mug of coffee in hand. Invincible Summer will sometimes make you giggle out loud, or make you feel anger towards society’s treatment of our four legged friends, but this book will definitely leave you wanting more of her continuing legacy of coffee, dogs and romance.

Nicole also has several other zines that can be found at http://www.microcosmpublishing.com including Invincible Summer II, a book I am looking forward to read.

Bio
Nicole J. George’s captures her adventures and thoughts in unique, heartfelt illustrations & stories. Five years of dog mothering, chicken raising, coffee-shop crushes, drama, low paying jobs, heartbreaking romance, inspiring friendships, Vegan snacks, & more! This exhaustive collection will take the reader on a whirlwind tour through Nicole’s personality, wit, and charm! This second edition collects issues #1-8 of her zines and features 38 new, additional pages! Recently featured on the Sister Spit tour!

It’s no secret that when it comes to depicting teens in comics, they are most likely to be both troubled and confused, both by society’s desire to pigeonhole them into a suitable lifestyle or pattern and their own desire to figure it out on their own. Perhaps that isn’t a totally new topic to deal with, but Liz Baillie’s graphic novel “My Brain Hurts” illustrates this pendulous time perfectly, with echoes of personal struggles ricocheting throughout the story. The main character and her best friend try their best to figure out where they belong not only struggling with sexuality and school bullies but also alcoholism and drug experimentation. What saves this graphic novel from being another angsty piece of self-indulgent fluff and elevates it above most in its genre is that Baillie’s comic style allows the reader not only to voyage with the characters as they journey towards self-enlightenment, but also maintains a humorous edge which is badly needed considering some of the content. She deals with some heavy issues surrounding adolescents and growing up, and she does it with wit and chuckles and a few good one-liners. Cannot wait for volume two.

Bio
Liz Baillie was born and raised in New York City and currently resides in Brooklyn with her husband and dog. She holds a BFA in Cartooning from the School of Visual Arts (ooh, fancy!) where she graduated in 2002. Her main hobbies are sleeping, eating, and reading, especially about gender/sexuality theory and LGBT history. Anything to do with martial arts is also a winner.

If you’re interested, there is an hour and a half long podcast interview with Liz at Indie Spinner Rack (issue 82). You can either listen to it right on your computer at that link, or you can get it by searching for “Indie Spinner Rack” in the podcast section of your iTunes.

When one reads the poetry of  Carla Hartsfield you can clearly sense a woman who is in touch with her  Feminine side, the Goddess and the Wolf. The reference to a woman’s period, time of the month or curse, which must have been a term defined by a man, is poetically explained in a way that shows the real side of our monthly cycle, thoughts and feelings regarding a thing that is advertised in a blatant disrespectful way, yet talked about it hush whispers with secret words to explain in a politically correct way.

I particularity associated with “Period” and was immediately brought back to that uncomfortable time when it was all new, and unexplained, the foray into womanhood, the awkward receptacles in the washroom, the cardboard uncomfortable-ness.

my period is me

dot dot dot

A very well written journey to an everyday occurrence in the world of woman. This reviewer highly recommends Blood.

Bio
Carla Hartsfield is a classically trained pianist, singer/songwriter, visual artist, and poet. She has published three major collections with Vehicule Press (Montreal) and Brick Books (London). Her first book, THE INVISIBLE MOON, was short-listed for the League of Canadian Poets Gerald Lampert prize. More recently, YOUR LAST DAY ON EARTH was long-listed for the BC ReLit Awards. In March 2008 LyricalMyrical books launched BLOOD, a hardcover sequence of poems about the female body, motherhood, abortion, genetics and love. During the next academic year Carla will be a visiting scholar at Queen’s researching and writing a new novel.

reviewed by October Young

This collection of short stories is one of the best examples of what good science fiction should be. Ranging from idyllic social structures to bizzare and slightly off kilter personal relationships, each story speaks to the reader and leaves them slightly unsettled. At first glimpse, the stories appear to be too short to have any real impact upon any sort of audience however the language used and the concepts introduced within each story betray the fact that these are tight stories without any excess words. The author has enough confidence in her ability to tell the exact story she wants to tell that she doesn’t clutter up the clean lines of each tale she spins. A fantastic read and definitely a writer worth watching the shelves for.

Bio:
Jennifer Pelland is a science fiction and horror short story author whose debut collection Unwelcome Bodies was released by Apex Publications on February 29, 2008.  It contains her short story “Captive Girl,” which is a 2007 Nebula Award finalist, and made the 2007 Gaylactic Spectrum Awards short list.

reviewed by Carolina Smart

Apparently that calculus we hated in high school is something you will actually use one day. Not just in baking either. According to Cindy Lu you will be using it in the dating world as well. Brilliantly written, this dating self help book not only has you giggling out loud at some of Cindy’s dating examples, but has you getting pen and paper out to do some romantic math.

When I first started reading the Four Man Plan, I thought, in order to give this book a proper review, I would actually need to try out “The Four Man Plan”. Then I started to do the math. The thought of having to date four men at the time was an exhausting thought on its own. But it’s not just dating, there is work to do, you need to keep a graph, do some quizzes, keep track if the man is a quarter man, half man, whole man, 2 1/4 man or a 3 1/2 man. Yes there is such a thing as a quarter man.

My favorite part of the book, The Break Up Ladder. You have five categories, The Ickies, Drop Out, Squeezed out, “Chuck”ed out, and the ultimate Ineligible. It makes breaking up so much more organized. But it also helps you understand why these relationships aren’t working.

Ok, what this book does is a bunch of really positive things. By dating several men, you build your self esteem, weed out those who don’t fit your criteria and in the end, help YOU understand what you want out of romance. Though all the math references, charts, graphs and ladders may seem a little scary to some, it actually simplifies and helps you make sense of the dating and romance in your life. I only just finished reading the book and I now have a clearer picture of what it is I am looking for. So, go pick up a copy, I’m off to start adding quarter men to my chart.

reviewed by October Young

A twisting tale of darkness and redemption, ‘Words Written Backwards’ manages to do something other than entertain. Blending Native folklore with angelic history, the reader is caught between two distinctly different views on how the angels fell. Drawn into their personal stories, the reader cannot help but feel sorry for Judy, as we sense right at the beginning that she is not what she appears to be. The other main character, Joe, is equally as broken as she is; between talking to the spirits and questioning his own motives he finds himself in a dark place that only Judy can help him out of. The only question is, will she? A utterly fantastic read whose only fault is that it isn’t long enough.

Bio:

Gemma Files was born in 1968 in London, England, the daughter of actors Elva Mai Hoover and Gary Files. Her family relocated to Toronto in 1969, where she resides today. Files graduated Ryerson Polytechnic University in 1991 with a degree in journalism; various freelance assignments eventually led to a continuing position with entertainment periodical eye Weekly (www.eye.net), where she gained local repute as an insightful commentator on the horror genre, independent films and Canadian cinema. She was listed by Cameron Bailey of NOW Magazine as one of the Top 10 Coolest People In Canadian Cinema for 1996. She has also written reviews for www.film.com and for the Canadian horror magazine Rue Morgue. In 2000 her award-winning story “The Emperor’s Old Bones” was reprinted in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror Thirteenth Annual Collection (ed. Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow).

Files was married in 2002 to upcoming science-fiction and fantasy author Stephen J. Barringer. They have one son, Callum Jacob, born in September 2004.

Be Good flows like romantic poetry, beautifully intertwining several complicated characters with strategic mastery. If I had to wrap up my review of the Stacey May Fowles novel here I would. But this is a book review so I do need to say at least a few more words.

I can’t say enough good things about Stacey May Fowles debut novel, a story of several twenty somethings attempting to find their footing in life. The story carries you gracefully from one character to the other, keeping you in constant need to continue reading, to find out how they make out at the end of their journey. We get to ride along with the emotional ups and downs of each character, feeling both empathy and sympathy for the trials and tribulations of life and love each must endure.

Reading Be Good made me nostalgic for my twenty something years and I am sure it will do the same for you. Pick up a copy of this amazing novel, I am sure you won’t be disappointed!

About the Author (from www.staceymayfowles.com)

Stacey May Fowles’ written work has been published in various online and print magazines, including Kiss Machine, Girlistic, The Absinthe Literary Review, Hive and subTERRAIN. Her non-fiction has been anthologized in the widely acclaimed Nobody Passes: Rejecting the Rules of Gender and Conformity and First Person Queer. Her first novel, Be Good, was published with Tightrope Books in November 2007. She currently lives in Toronto where she is the publisher of Shameless Magazine.

The world is ending and the RCMP’s top secret branch that is dedicated to investigating the paranormal have been given the the thankless deed of saving the planet. The only problem is those who have been given charge of our destiny are a drunk, a womanizer and their abusive boss. Throw in a sarcstic, administrative assistant, a mysterious receptionist, a lonely old lady and cult that stamps you with a 666 symbol. You have, well, one of the funniest scifi tales out there.

Timothy Carter keeps us entertained from cover to cover with the adventure of Howard Plank and Johnny Tall. Two of the RCMP’s former top cops are sent to the bowels of the RCMP when they screw up time after time. Of course that doesn’t stop them from risking their lives to save man kind.

Timothy Carter was born in Farnham, England during the week of the final lunar mission, and he turned 13 on Friday the 13th. He is a novelist, screenwriter, movie lover and Transformers fanatic.

It’s very hard for anything I read to disturb me. I was raised on Stephen King, John Saul and some of the most terrifying horror movies of all time and my hero is Morticia Addams. See where I am going with this? That all changed when I read Apple Of My Eye. I have to admint, I have never been this disturbed by any horror stories, ever. 13 stories of unique macabre, creepiness and sometimes revenge. Amy has a unique story telling style that draws in the reader, keeps them on the edge of their seats and then takes them through the ultimate dark journey.

Apple of My Eyes stories range from the wicked tale of a Daddy’s girl in Apple of My Eye, to the perfect revenge on a man who regularly abuses women in Prevention to the ultimate disturbing end result of one man’s infidelity in Cold Comfort.

Each one of the 13 stories are equally intriguing, dark and horrifying. Amy Grech quickly moves you into the uncharted territory of fear and what treads behind that unopened door. This book is a must read for all horror story enthusiasts.

Bio
Amy Grech has sold over one hundred stories and three poems to various anthologies and magazines including: Apex Digest, Bare Bone, City Slab Magazine, Flashshot: Year One, Funeral Party 2, Inhuman Magazine, Red Scream Magazine, Shadow Writers – Volume 2, Spider Words, The Book of Dark Wisdom, The Horror Express, The Late Late Show, and many others. Her novel, The Art of Deception, is available at http://amazon.com. Her chapbook Cold Comfort is available from Naked Snake Press http://www.nakedsnakepress.com/CATALOG.html. Two Backed Books http://www.twobackedbooks.com/catalog.asp recently published her collection, Apple of My Eye.

Stories are forthcoming in: Mind Scraps, Space & Time, The Blackest Death III, and The Three-Lobed Burning Eye Annual Vol. III. She is an Active Member of the Horror Writers Association who lives in Brooklyn. Amy Grech is also a talented Copywriter/Search Engine Optimization Specialist. Visit her website: http://www.crimsonscreams.com for a good fright.

bio is from http://amygrech.livejournal.com/profile

Are you ready for some excitement! Jeff Cottrill not only knows how to draw his readers in, he knows how to shock them. Gifted at writing clever and smooth tales with twisted endings, he has become a quick favourite of this reviewers. The reader is quickly drawn in by this light and fun story lines than BAM big bloody endings. A man after my own heart!

The continuing series ‘The Fiver’ quickly caught my attention, the favourite thing about the Fiver is the Volume II Eedin-berg. I was reading this story on the subway and started laughing out loud during my train ride. My Grandmother was Scottish so I appreciate the humour around the pronunciation of the city’s name.

The further you read into the chap book the more you realized that Jeff is not only a clever writer, but an intuitive one. In Hemingway’s Lost Chapter, Jeff has a knack for recreating Hemingways run on sentences and repetitive descriptive. A good giggle was had without the beer and pretzels.

All I can say about Guilt Pasta is go to the Burning Effigy webstore and buy it. You won’t be disappointed.

About the Author
Jeff Cottrill is a satirist, fiction writer, and spoken-word performer based in Toronto. His stage act often uses elements of performance poetry, comedy, theatre, storytelling… even the occasional puppet. With a darkly comic flavour, he likes to make audiences laugh, cringe, or (preferably) both.

He has featured in many local literary shows and toured twice with the Perpetual Motion Roadshow, which brought him to such cities as New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Montreal and Vancouver. In June 2003, he performed two full sets at the Open Eye Festival in Seaforth, western Ontario. He has also headlined for shows throughout England as well as in Ottawa; Detroit; Windsor, Ontario; Toledo, Ohio; and Rockford, Illinois.

He was the co-host of Strange Tongues, a popular monthly spoken-word series (created by monica s. kuebler) that ran from February 2002 to June 2004. He has also been an occasional guest host of other open stages, including WordJam!, Cryptic Chatter, Coffeehouse Cabaret, Every Buddha Plays and Cafe at the Centre.

Jeff has also written arts reviews, interviews and articles as well as (gasp!) relationship self-help. He is the former Assistant Editor of Divorce Magazine and has appeared in The Detroit News, Canoe.ca, Vu, Exclaim!, The Village Post, OWL, The Richmond Hill Post, Glued, Jagged, Wordsmith, The Independent Weekly and The Varsity.

He has authored two chapbooks of fiction and satirical monologues, Cruelty and Kindness (2002) and Karaoke Dogs (2003), published through Burning Effigy Press. (His third, Guilt Pasta, will be launched in April 2007.) In June 2005, he released his first CD, Cracktastic!, through Moody Loner Records.

Jeff likes movies, travel, and puppies.

Jeff’s bio is quoted from toronto.coffeehouse.ca

About the Press

Burning Effigy Press was founded in 1999 as a way to bring fringe poetry, prose and fiction out from the trenches and onto the pages of chapbooks and anthologies. The driving force of Burning Effigy has always been that we are writers publishing writers. That said, we ain’t in this shit for the bucks, we’re in it because we love books and we love the scene. More so, we love writing that moves, frightens or forces us to think in different ways. We love words that scream and bleed from the pages and demand to be heard.

In March 2007, Burning Effigy relaunched with a new brand new genre focus and many big surprises in store. Timothy Carter’s novel Section K kicks us off with a unconventional sci-fi comedy guaranteed to entertain. To be followed shortly by our brand new line of horror chapbooks. Stay tuned for all the bloodcurdling details.

I want Jennifer McCann to start making my lunches… I’m serious. Jennifer runs a blog called The Vegan Lunch Box (http://veganlunchbox.blogspot.com/), she makes vegan lunches for her little guy. This kid not only has the coolest lunch box, but the worlds best lunches. I bet his class mates gather around each lunch to see what is inside the blue box! She has just released a cookbook called ‘Vegan Lunch Box’ and you can buy it at the website www.veganlunchbox.com. Sometimes paypal is way too convenient! I now have the book in my possession and can’t wait to start making up some of my own Lunch boxes.

There are tonnes of yummy recipes and lunch box ideas through out the book. There are also glossy full colour photos to compliment said recipes. Whether you are making lunches for you kids or just yourself. This book is well worth it.

Dark, sensual, sexy and hot. These are a few words I would use to describe the first book of poetry by Myna Wallin, but a few are not enough. 75 pages long, and purse size, this book travelled with me on the subway, during my rush hour tours from work to home and back again. I’m glad it was in my purse.

This book is cleverly broken into four chapters. In the Throes, Casting Call, Off Limits and An Ariel View. Each chapter as profound as the one before it.

One of my favourite poems is Screen Vixen. Every little girl dreams of being one and Myna has put into perfect words those hidden emotions. My next favourite is the fantasy of Secret Lives and the very classy Even Diva’s Get the Blues.

Pick up A Thousand Profrane Pieces and put it in your purse or knapsack and have it handy for those long tedious subway rides. It’s a nice escape.


Clever and contraversial, Misogyny takes us through a journey of time, from the beginning of civilization, to the witch hunts, to the suffragette movement and right up to current times. Throughout this journey we are given a history lesson of men’s mistreatment and contempt for women. Jack Holland’s extensive research is very apparent through out the entire book, making it an interesting read and a book that is hard to put down.

When I first picked up this book I wasn’t sure what to think. A book on misogyny written by a man was probably his attempt to justify it. Jack Holland does the exact opposite. Not only does he show, through the ages, just how wrong it really is, he himself is shocked, when people are shocked that he isn’t writing a book trying to justify the wrongs of Misogyny.

Powerfully written and in great detail, this is a must read for all women.

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July Issue of Lipstik Indie

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Reviewed by Carolina Smart

By pure serendipity I came across this CD.  It was mixed in with another package sent to me for review.  Another reviewer was supposed to review this CD but once I started listening to it, I claimed it for my own.  A mix of Motown style 50’s rock and roll such as Stone Cold Man to a 1930’s blues twist with In My Time of Dying and Skinny Girl, Soul Stack is the kind of music you listed to in on a sweaty July night. 

I am thick in the indie music scene and am surprised I haven’t heard of this band till now.  With strong blues guitar riffs reminiscent of Eric Clapton and Howl’n Wolf, Soul Stack has a very smooth sound with tight production.  According to the bio on their website, this album was recorded over a two day period in the winter of 2011. Two day recordings would be reminiscent of artists of the 50’s/60’s due to production costs, I’m not sure if this was the reason here or they were just in the groove, but this is one of the best two day recordings I’ve heard in a very long time.

Band members Jonathan Knight (vocals/guitar) and Tom Bona (vocals/drums) with the addition of Mark Wessenger (vocals/keys) and Josh Knight (vocals/bass) are a group of amazing musicians, who have pulled off what has become one of my favourite album’s of the year.  The album can be purchased through their website http://www.soulstack.com or through CD Baby. 

If you are in the Toronto area, they have a show coming up at The Dominion on Queen (July 14).  More info can be found on their Reverb Nation page (www.soulstack.com).

Track list:
1. Intro
2. Stone Cold Man
3. In My Time of Dying
4. Desperate Times
5. Since You Came Around
6. Skinny Girl
7. In Your Mind
8. Just a Natural Thing
9. River of Love
10. Holy Roller
11. Your Only Man
12. Let Me Be Your Fool
13. Miss Me

Reviewed by Carolina Smart

Scarlet Jane is a collaboration of two well know Canadian Indie artists Andrea Ramolo and Cindy Doire.  Dark, edgy and beautiful, when their songs reverb out of your speakers you visualize these two raven haired beauties playing in equally beautiful and intimate venues.  I’ve seen Andrea play a few times at the famous Dakota Tavern in Toronto.  The duo would definitely fit in at any Nashville type setting.

Songs such as Aching Heart, Burning Up and We’ll Never Be Found are emotionally wrenching, the lyrics written by two amazing storytellers.  Each song on Stranger are poetic masterpieces, painting vivid descriptions of experiences that all listeners can relate to.

The albums title song Stranger and Can’t Come Back have a much more upbeat feel. Can’t Come Back has a strong Rockabilly sound, reminiscent of a 50’s country rock and a very danceable tune.  Though I hate choosing favourites from any album I review, Can’t Come Back is at the top of my list.

Smooth, tight production value places this album in list of some of my favourites of 2012.  I can’t wait to see these ladies perform live.  They are currently on a cross Canada tour, details are on their website, if they are in a city near you, they are a must see.

Two beautiful women, two powerful voices, one absolutely amazing album!

Track list:

Wild Fire
Aching Heart
We’ll Never be Found
Ride On
Stranger
Beautiful
Can’t Come Back
Oh Darling
I’m Gone
Burning up

Reviewed by Viki Ackland

Troy Western’s latest EP “Rocks In A Bucket” put him on the road from his home in St. Catharine’s, Ontario to Canada’s east coast with his “Rocks & Fields” tour. “Feel The Love”, the lead track, can be heard in a series of videos from Commonplace Eco-Village on environmentally-friendly lifestyles. You can often find Troy performing around southern Ontario ranging from solo acoustic shows to those with the full band, as well as with a variety of guest musicians. Festival highlights include the Niagara Food Festival, the S.C.E.N.E. Music Festival, the Fort Erie Friendship Festival, the Fort Erie Music Festival, the Highland Creek Heritage Festival, and the Sammy Sugar Day Festival. He helped organize and performed at the hugely successful fundraiser “ANDREW’S FIGHT” in support of a friend and paramedic fighting cancer. Troy was featured on Brock University’s radio station, CFBU 103.7 on the show “Inside The Rhythm Hive” and on television on “The Source”, a community news and entertainment program in the Niagara region, wherein he talked of his passion for music, family, and creative inspiration. Some past experiences found Troy opening for Canadian rock group Big Sugar with an exciting acoustic version of “Oh Canada” that was met with exuberant cheers from the 200+ crowd. The 2006 Toronto Independent Music Awards recognized Troy with a nomination for “Best Classic Rock” for his song Into The Sun. He also earned by popular vote, the coveted “Featured Artist” spot on BreakingLocals.com, a networking website for musicians and fans alike. 

Find out where Troy Western’s journey is taking him now at http://www.TroyWestern.com. Join the adventure on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, or ReverbNation, or get his e-newsletter by emailing troynews@troywestern.com with the words “ADD ME” in the subject heading.

This passionate acoustic based performer has a melodic lovely voice that will haunt you long after you have listened to him. The first track “Feel the Love” is an upbeat rocking song with strong instrumental and vocals telling a tale of love and finding ones way home. The second track “Til the sunrise comes near” is a bit calmer but not lacking in story telling. My favorite was the final track “Look Around.” I love the beginning and I found it quite lovely to listen to, from the acoustic guitar to the harmonies. All in all, an enjoyable experience.

Biography

Troy Western is a singer-songwriter putting the ‘thunk’ into his folk-rock grooves. His music seems to have a slightly different edge that likely comes from his eclectic music tastes. While some have compared Troy’s sound to the Dave Matthews Band or Neil Young, many say they just can’t quite put a finger on it.

Tracks
Feel the Love
Til Sunrise Comes Near
Getting Home
Untitled
Look Around

Life With More Cowbell

Big rollicking fun & magic @ You Can’t Take It With You

I want to go live with the Sycamore family.

Some big magical fun at the Young Centre last night when I went to see Soulpepper’s production of George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart’s You Can’t Take It With You, directed by Joseph Ziegler, where we spend a few days in the family’s living/dining room witnessing the comings and goings of various family members, friends and even prospective in-laws in this rollicking circus of a household.

Set in the late 30s, the living/dining area of the Sycamore home is surprisingly neat, considering all the various pursuits and work going on in the house. Mom Penny (Nancy Palk) has been turning her hand to playwriting of late – this after giving up painting – with several scripts in progress, moving from one to another when she gets writer’s block. Dad Paul (Derek Boyes) plays with Meccano erector sets in his spare time, and designs and creates fireworks in the basement with friend/colleague Mr. De Pinna (Michael Simpson), an child-like unmarried chap, formerly the ice man who came into the house eight years ago and never left. Daughter Essie (Patricia Fagan) works at home as a candy maker and is an aspiring ballet dancer, but not particularly good at it after eight years of studying with Mr. Kolenkhov (Diego Matamoros), while her husband Ed (Mike Ross) who delivers the candy, accompanies her dancing on the xylophone and enjoys printing things – everything from the family’s dinner menu to phrases that catch his fancy. Daughter Alice (Krystin Pellerin), the most conventional member of the family, works at an office, where she meets and falls in love with Tony (Gregory Prest), the boss’s son. Grandpa (Eric Peterson) decided to quit the rat race 35 years ago and has been having loads of fun ever since attending circuses and commencements, playing darts, collecting stamps and caring for his snakes. In addition to the family members are Rheba (Sabryn Rock), the Sycamores’ maid/cook, and her boyfriend Donald (Andre Sills), the handyman – who in their way are both family as well.

Tony and Alice want to get married, but Alice is worried that her unconventional family won’t fit in with prospective – wealthy and conservative – in-laws Mr. and Mrs. Kirby (John Jarvis and Brenda Robins). And her nightmare comes true when Tony brings the folks over a day early for dinner and, despite her family’s support of the match and wanting to make a good impression, all hell breaks loose.

Kaufman and Moss have written a highly entertaining piece about family, acceptance and finding your bliss. Do what you love even if you’re not particularly good at it – as long as you’re getting a kick out of it, it’s all good. Like Grandpa says of money and position: “You can’t take it with you,” so you may as well relax and enjoy yourself – a very forward-thinking notion for the time.

A thoroughly charming play, with lovely performances all around. I especially enjoyed Peterson, an audience favourite who gives us a brilliantly funny and real performance as Grandpa, commenting on the household goings-on and calling folks on their silliness, his pre-dinner grace more like a state-of-the-union chat with God. Additional cast include some fun turns from Raquel Duffy as a drunken actress who comes to read for Penny, Maria Vacratsis as a displaced Russian royal now working as a waitress, and Brian Bisson and Tim Ziegler as the G-men who raid the Sycamore’s dinner party (with Ziegler also playing Henderson, the IRS man who comes to see Grandpa about his unpaid income taxes).

http://lifewithmorecowbell.wordpress.com/2012/06/21/big-rollicking-fun-magic-you-cant-take-it-with-you/

Absurd family tragedy in The Goat

WARNING: This post contains adult language and content.

Edward Albee’s The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? (subtitled: Notes Towards A Definition of Tragedy) is one absurd, darkly funny, mind-fuck of a play. And if you hadn’t been aware of the play’s subject before arriving at the theatre, you sure as hell get the idea when you receive the program. The cover is a veritable Kama Sutra of man/goat lovin’ illustrations. I went to see Atic Productions’ run of The Goat, directed by Carter West, at the Tarragon Theatre Extra Space last night.

On entering the theatre space, you see a set composed of white pedestals, each with an empty plate frame – plates are set at the top of the show when the cast sets the stage, the family home – and a pair of white column/lintel entrances, the lintels askew atop uneven columns. Bringing to mind ancient Greek architecture. The pre-show music is a mix of love songs throughout the decades. Love and tragedy are coming.

Martin (Tim Walker) and Stevie (Rosemary Doyle) are a well-off, well-matched and happily married 40-something couple. Their sweet and handsome 17-year-old son Billy (Ben Hayward) has recently come out as gay, and they’re being pretty cool about it. Their domestic bliss is shattered when Martin reveals to his best friend Ross (Benjamin Blais) that he’s been having an affair – with a goat named Sylvia – a confidence that Ross proceeds to share with Stevie in a letter. You can imagine the family discussion that arises from this revelation.

What is interesting about this play is that Martin and Stevie, in addition to being very intelligent, open-minded people, have the sort of relationship in which they can actually have a discussion about Martin’s unusual infidelity – as painful and enraging as it is for Stevie. As the audience, we are presented with the notion and left to our own judgements – about bestiality and adultery, and even unintentional, spontaneous moments of incest and pederasty. Ross is the sole voice of conservative convention in the play, passing harsh judgement on anything beyond a well-hidden affair with another human, preferably of the opposite sex. And yet his hypocrisy shows as he coaxes the details of Martin’s affair with Sylvia – and despite his protestations and crying moral foul, he takes the taboo scenario in with a sense of scandalized glee.

The play is about 100 minutes long with no intermission and the actors – especially the family members – are taken on a physical and emotional roller coaster ride. Martin and Stevie are fun, affectionate and easy in their relationship – and love each other so big – and the hurt of Martin’s affair crashes so hard that every plate in the room lays broken in the end even as Stevie herself crumbles to the floor in agony. Even young Billy, who tries to intervene and is especially protective of his mother, is reduced to a balling mess after Ross returns to poke the wasp’s nest he’s already kicked at.

Walker is lovely as Martin, a good-humoured, gentle and loving man struggling with the onset of middle age and tormented by his desire for Sylvia. He has great chemistry with Doyle, who brings a funny, smart and sexy Stevie – loyal in love but fierce in betrayal. You really believe that Martin and Stevie have a big love for each other. You also believe that Martin really loves Sylvia too – an extremely painful truth for both Martin and Stevie. Hayward is adorably smart-ass as the teenager Billy, an intelligent and good-natured kid who is aware of just how cool his folks are – and he loves them both a lot. He brings a nice sense of Billy’s conflicted feelings  – torn between the child’s response of running away and the man’s response of stepping in to protect his mother. Blais gives us a nice combination of humour and cynicism as Ross, a character who’s really the outsider in this grouping, espousing a socially moralistic attitude towards fidelity and honour – but it’s all okay if you don’t get caught. Except one must stay within one’s own species with an age-appropriate partner and opposite sex is best. Really strong performances all around – you’re constantly wondering what will happen next. What will he/she do now?

As I mentioned in an earlier post, The Goat has a very short run at the Tarragon Extra Space – it closes tomorrow afternoon (Sunday, June 24). There are still a few chances left to see it, though, with matinées today and tomorrow at 2:30 p.m., and an evening show tonight at 8:00 p.m.

For more info, visit Atic Productions at: http://aticproductions.com/

http://lifewithmorecowbell.wordpress.com/2012/06/23/absurd-family-tragedy-in-the-goat/

Raw heart sounds – Tin Star Orphans @ the Horseshoe

Shortly after my friends, Kat, Lizzie, Lizzie’s friend Janis and I entered the back room of the Horseshoe last night, we met up with drummer Johnny Rowe, who was set to do double duty with two bands: Inlet Sound and Tin Star Orphans in back-to-back sets at the top of the evening – which is just fine by him because, stamina challenges aside, he loves to play.

Inlet Sound

First band up was Inlet Sound, a folk rock band from Hamilton with a great Celtic, violin-backed, east coast sound, bringing to mind great east coast bands like Great Big Sea and Rawlins Cross. Dream Awake, a lovely collection of lyric ballads, is their EP release – I picked up a copy at the venue last night – and their first full-length record The Romantics is nearing completion. Check them out and give them a listen here: http://www.inletsound.com/

I’d heard Tin Star Orphans once before, at the end of 2011 at the Rivoli, and was struck by the band’s raw, driving sounds – packing a big punch, but with a big heart – largely due to frontman Zachary Bennett’s lyrics and vocals, strong guitar arrangements (Bennett and Dean Marino) and Johnny Rowe’s percusssion. And I was very happy to purchase a copy of their recent recording The Days of Blinding Fear – lots of which we got to hear live last night.

Bennett’s vocals are alive and raw, going from soft and introspective on ballads like “Fire” to a ferocious growl in “Year of the Wave,” a prophesy of impending environmental disaster, warning of a Momma Nature losing patience, trigger finger twitching. Love the final line of that one: All fanatics may bow their heads and pray but I’m only hoping someone brings champagne.

Songs like “Fire” and “Jaw Wired Shut” – among my favourites – have a U2 sound, reminiscent of The Joshua Tree. Haunting and visceral. And “Three Cheers for the Coward” has an especially haunting sound, while “We Are Lions” is pure driving beat. Johnny Rowe was showing no signs of slowing down on the skins during that second set. If I were writing this about a classical concert, I’d characterize his playing as “robust.” The man can play – and he was still givin’ ‘er right to the end of Tin Star Orphans’ final chords.

Tin Star Orphans

Tins Star Orphans – Zachary Bennett

Tin Star Orphans – Dean Marino & Zachary Bennett

Tin Star Orphans – Johnny Rowe

You gotta give these guys a listen: http://www.tinstarorphans.com/

http://lifewithmorecowbell.wordpress.com/2012/06/24/raw-heart-sounds-tin-star-orphans-the-horseshoe/

June Edition – The Rock and Roll Poets issue

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Iconic imagery, delicious, lust filled words transcending us into another frame of mind.  This immediately comes to mind when I try to sum up what The Tyranny of Love is about. The problem is, there is no summing it up.  I have been left wanting more.

Unless you’ve met Nik or heard his radio show, HOWL on CIUT.FM, you won’t know what his voice sounds like. He has a very sexy, sensuous, seasoned rock and roll poets tone.  It was hard to read The Tyranny of Love without reading each piece with Nik’s voice attached to it, adding to the romance of each piece.

When I was first introduced to Nik’s writing, I fell instantaneously in love.  His writing captures the realities of life and love, taking the harshness of it all, crushing it into beautiful, strange colours, creating a paradox on written canvas.  There is a powerful ebb and flow, waves cresting with religious, iconic visions of God, steamy after moments of coital pleasure and pop culture.

There is a new wave of poets and writers that have emerged in the city of Toronto.  I personally call them The Rock and Roll poets.  They are reminiscent of the new wave of poets and writers of the 60’s and 70’s such as Jack Kerouac, Hunter S. Thompson, or Truman Capote.  Nik Beat is one of these Rock and Roll poets, adding a new and powerful flavour to the literary scene.

Under normal circumstances, I would single out a few poems that were my favourites.  I can’t do that here.  It’s impossible.  Each piece standing out and speaking to me equally.     64 pages of an unending orgasmic, poetic experience. The Tyranny of Love has left me wanting more, needing more of Nik Beat’s words.

Rock and Roll Poet.

There is a new movement, a new style of Poet emerging in the city of Toronto.  A movement I hope goes viral.  Poets who are becoming the rockstars or our literary scene in every sense of the word.  Brandon Pitts is one of these Poets.  On the page and in performance, he fills the stage with a lyrical presence, oozing a sensual vibration of power in his chosen words.  His voice an instrument.  Pressure to Sing is Brandon Pitts songbook, his album, his concert.  His poetry images of his past, present and future.

Pressure to Sing is a structural masterpiece, with 11 chapters.  Each chapter’s poems defining a story, an emotion and a message. I won’t choose favourites amongst the poems in this book as they all stand out.  However, one particular poem in Pressure to Sing does deserve that little bit of extra attention and accolade.  Lot, a poem that affected me emotionally, leaving me in a breathless state, having me swing hard between anger, disgust and empathy for the state of human evolution. A modern expose mixed with religious icons, a society failing at making a better world.  The last line of the poem, a powerful statement, ‘We are defining our times’ rings honesty and truth.  Brandon has a video poem for Lot that is a must see.  (http://brandonpitts.com/Videos.html).  Lot is a powerful, moving piece, that should be read and heard by all.

As a poet and writer, Brandon Pitts is defining our times indeed.  He raises the bar to a level that we haven’t seen in decades. A bar that should inspire other poets and writers to reach for.

Coil is a thing of magic and passion, filled with spirituality, sensuality and intense, raw emotional words that can only come from experiencing life with eyes wide open.   The poems in Coil are a selection of 800 pieces written over the course of several months. Poems that feel as if they were channelled from another world, their vessel being Susan Munro.

I was first introduced to Susan Munro’s poetry at an open mic for The Beautiful and the Damned.  Open mic’s are magical and sometimes strange, never knowing what to expect from the performance.   After hearing Susan read, I knew this beautiful woman’s words were more than just a delicious treat, it felt as if I was put under a spell, her spell.

Thomas Scott’s quote on the back of Coil, sums it up perfectly. “This is a collection of poems that feels like a finely cut stone, with each poem a slightly different facet of the whole. You will find intensity and magic here, clarity and airiness — just on the other side of understanding.”

Coil is a flawless piece of work, as is each poem within the covers.  From the religious flavouring of Marks, to the sensual and sexy piece Love is a Car, Susan Munro’s Coil will leave you with a vibrant visual of words transcending to a higher level of divine.  A muse for our times, Susan Munro is a beautiful woman with a beautiful soul.

It has to be said up front, this will be the least objective review I have yet to write for Lipstik Indie as I am already a huge fan of Laura L’Rock in particular and her new album Law of Attraction. That being said, I have never seen her with her full band ticking out and this CD launch, at the famed Now Lounge on 189 Church Street in Toronto, provided the venue and the time to witness the aforementioned Laura L’Rock in action. But, I am not just reviewing her performance, rather the entire night. Again, I have to say all objectivity has to be scattered to the four winds, as I was not just a silent witness to the rock and roll proceeding but, I was also the MC of the eve. Leave out any hopes entirely behind you if you expect less that a biased view here. Now that I have cleared that up on to the review.

Opening proceedings was  Sarah Smith, formerly of the beloved rock outfit The Joys. Sarah immediately set the tone that this was a celebration for and of Laura L’Rock and combined a set of songs (mostly original)  with a knowing sexuality that lit up the room. Believe me, Laura L’Rock wrote a song about this girl, (they have been pals for  a year or so now) on the Law of Attraction CD called Ball of Fire and with just a drummer (Robin) and her steely smiling gaze, Sarah did what an opening act does: open the door to a high energy party NIGHT!! And she did.

After that and just on schedule at ten thirty, came Laura L’Rock’s band mates Owen Tennyson, on drums, Rob Laidlaw (of Platinum Blonde no less) on bass  and lead guitarist, Steve Saunders. Laura, with her long blonde locks and dark roots just enough to keep you rooted to your seat, looked hot,  hot, hot, in tight sprayed on jeans, flashy sable coloured jacket and a sexy velveteen bodice that did not hide any of the smouldering sexuality and charisma that she possesses on or off stage. She looked out at the multitude at first,  looking almost surprised at the packed to the rafters and enthused welcome — wisely chose to start the rock off with Light my Fuse, from her Law of Attraction album and promptly did. A bit slower than usual tempo than I am used too, but the crowd didn’t know and didn’t care and ate it up. In fact, from the moment Laura L’Rock hit the stage she had the audience in the palm of her hungry for rock little hands. If it is possible for a performer to get bigger star- wise, as the set drove on into the night, Laura showered the rock room — she became a bigger star tonight. Zipping through many of her best tracks on Law of Attraction, she didn’t stop the rock for the entire 35 minute set as she celebrated not only her night and CD release, but all the people she admired and wrote about in her songs too.

The Now Lounge is not a big room for a rock act, but it got bigger as if all the people that packed it were expanding and pushing back the walls themselves for elbow room. Truly a great night.

The closing act High Heels LoFi ended the night by not closing: they thanked Laura profusely and did not let down the torch that had been passed form Laura and played their party songs like Big Dumb Rock Song with an exuberance that matched if not equaled Laura. They were as caught up by the celebration for Laura as any one and planted their flag on Planet Laura L’Rock for the duration as well a s could be asked.

Much gratis for a band on rock night.

LIFE WITH MORE COWBELL

June’s The Beautiful & The Damned
http://lifewithmorecowbell.wordpress.com/2012/06/15/passionate-words-music-zeldas-the-beautiful-the-damned-pride-edition/

Art on the Danforth – Brandon Pitts
http://lifewithmorecowbell.wordpress.com/2012/06/11/brandon-pitts-reading-art-of-the-danforth/

May 2012 Issue. The Powerhouse women musicians feature!

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Leuty Station is like walking into a beautiful dream and not wanting to wake up from it.  Each song is a story of a life event that everyone can appreciate and associate a part of their own life with.  It’s hard to pick just one favourite song as the album is a mix of all the music genres I love.  As the sounds of Jazz, Latin and R&B flow out of my speakers, I find my self entranced with every single song.

How Long and Strawberry Girl are both powerfully touching songs.  One is about the fear of a cancer diagnosis and the emotions one goes through and the other about two people who have been married and madly in love with each other for over 50 years.  The listener will be gripped by the vivid power of the words and lyrics.

Last Train is a powerful rock ballad with a great Santanaesque riff in the middle of the song.  I’ve heard this song being compared to Tori Amos, but I personally think Heather Hill gives Tori a run for her money. The lyrics are so emotional and wrenching that I can feel what the protagonist of this song is going through as she is being chased.

Leuty Station, You Won’t Leave Me and Between the Leather and the Lining are biographically sensational.  The passion in these songs sends butterflies through me.  Though not a wife or mother myself, I as an artist and woman can appreciate the struggles one must go through when making life changing decisions.

Heather Hill is not only an incredibly talent musician, who weaves beautiful stories into music, she is an inspiration to her fellow artists.  Leaving the corporate world to pursue her dream as an artist is both brave and terrifying and you can feel the power of her love for her chosen profession in each and every song.

Leuty Station will be available online on May 12th and at the Drake Underground at 7:30pm for Heather’s CD release party. To book your advance copy, please email heather@heatherhill.ca.

Tracks
How Long
27
Leuty Station
Last Train
Second Chance
You Won’t Leave Me
Wading Through Normal
Between the Leather and Lining
Strawberry Girl
Never Grow Old

Do you ever listen to a CD and visualize the artist or band playing in a large stadium, to a massive crowd.  When I listen to Jessica Speziale, I see her on that stage.  This girl has rock star quality and if you’ve seen her live, you will agree that her amazing stage presence and powerful voice fills the room.

Right from the get go you are thrown into the world of rock with Brace Yourself and brace yourself you should.  The rest of this album is one amazing hit after another.  A perfect mix of rock and rock ballads and rock your socks off tunes, Jessica Speziale has the formula that hits the mark.

Though I loved each and every song on the album, Baby Face and Dear Reverie really stood out for me.  Baby Face should become every woman’s anthem for the type of man not to get involved with.  Dear Reverie is just an amazing rock song that makes you want to get up and dance your ass off.

The album itself is not only fun to listen to, Jessica Speziale herself is a tonne of fun to watch live.  A great musician, a talented song writer and a helluvah performer.  Get out to see her up close and personal, she will be kicking off her summer tour starting May 25 with tours all over Southern Ontario.

Tracks
Brace Yourself
Don’t Look Down
Turn Me On (Leave Me On)
Babyface
How To Be A Man
Dear Reverie

Upcoming Tour Dates:
May 25 – Mississauga
May 30 – Hamilton
June 2 – Bracebridge
June 8 – Ottawa
June 22 – Toronto
More to be confirmed!  Visit http://www.jessicaspeziale.com for up-to-date listings.
Website: http://www.jessicaspeziale.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jessicaspezialemusic
Reverbnation: http://www.reverbnation.com/jessicaspeziale
Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/jessicaspeziale
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/spezzie
EPK: http://www.sonicbids.com/2/EPK/?epk_id=329968
Online Store: http://www.jessicaspeziale.com/store
Dear Reverie on iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/dear-reverie-ep/id483294418

Arlene Paculan is one beautiful and talented artist, musician and woman.  The brainchild behind the amazing Wonder Women events and of the production company Lene Green Mean Productions, she is a force of nature with an incredible voice to back it up.

Listening to Arlene’s CD ‘I’m Worth It’ feels like I’m at a tea party with all my favourite people, sipping from beautiful tea cups.  Each and every song on the album is a lyrical trip down a petal covered road with inspiring lyrics and a velvet smooth voice.

When music pulls out emotions in you that you would ordinarily hide, it says something about the strength of the songwriter.  One More Day does exactly that for me.  The line ‘cherish me for one more day’ pulls hard at my heart strings.  The entire song is an emotional roller coaster for me.

I’m Worth It has a 90’s R&B nostalgic feel to it.  Some names that came into mind as I listened to it are artists such as  Karyn White and Jody Watley. Some of my favourite ballads have been from those artists and Arlene’s music brings me back to a time when I would be not only listening to, but singing along with many of those great R&B artists.

Without sounding corny, this album is Worth It and is in my collection of favourites.  Pick up a copy or download the album at iTunes and get out to see Arlene Paculan live, she preforms all over Toronto and Mississauga and another edition of Wonder Women will be happening this summer.

Tracks
I’m Worth It
Get Over Yourself
Closer To You
One More Day
Your Voice
Forgive Me

Finally, someone in the Canuck indie scene has forged through the smithy of their souls poppy.  Ophelia’s Syndrome is an infectious combination of Kate Bush with Coldplay and are out of the common bread of the everyday ho-hum scene that we all have to endure to some degree or other. These days the celebration of the mediocre has reached some kind of apotheosis, whether endless revels of TV shows digging out the innards of pawn shop owner travail to Desperate House Wives of Bel Air to light bulbs for midgets.

This has to be the most banal cultural time in the Western Society. We have reached a kind of backwater awards show for the great unwashed, the philistines of the boondocks the bedrock of trash and detritus that should have been buried in some landfill but is instead dredged up and elevated to the light of day and then put a giant spotlight on it just in case you missed the point.

Fortunately we have groups like this Hamilton, Ontario wunderkind’s who, realizing this, explore this affect of Late Civilization, make fun of it and then dispose of it and move on especially in songs like, Passing Time, Heroes and Villains and As Long as There’s a Fight and Don’t Care. There is a kind of Cabaret element embedded in these tracks that adds irony to the lyrical refrains.

The band consists of Adrian McFarlane: drums, percussion Trina Nadeau: cello, percussion Deanna Wells: vocals, piano, B3, Rhodes, Wurlitzer, bells, percussion Josh Kohler: bass, vocals, percussion Andrew Barbisan: guitar, lap steel, vocals, percussion, siren Leon Furs – vocals, percussion, synthesizer, programming Loretta Hale: trumpet — all excellent musicians if somewhat lacking in imagination regarding arrangements but this is a small criticism  for this entertaining group’s  newest CD, released in April of this year. There are eleven tracks of which Passing Time and  Long Wait and How to Say Goodbye are the best pop tunes. Recorded at Catherine North Studios in Hamilton and produced by moon and 6 and Ophelia’s Syndrome. This CD has the listener friendly vibes of a winner for this group. Thumbs up!!

Tracks
Passing Time
Heroes and Villains
Today
Fight interlude
As Long as There’s a Fight
Don’t Care
Glue
Fire and Sea
Long Wait
Feet on Ground
How to Say Goodbye

MIP Power Trio’s Haggard & Bedraggled feels like a fun house party on a summers night.  I don’t remember the last time I had this much fun listening to a CD.  I found myself, on a few occasions, wanting to break out into dance while listening to Haggard & Badraggled on my iPod.  A little over a year ago I saw them for the first time at The Hard Luck Cafe.  That night, they not only stood out amongst the other bands they were on the bill with, the name Mip Power Trio has stuck in my craw since.

Growing up on Punk Rock music, I always appreciate when I can hear the influence in other musicians songs.  Mip’s quirky rock ballad’s such as Stone Wall not only have a punk influence, but there is some definite Rockabilly creeping out, making it one of my favourite tracks on the CD.

This album is a great mix of punk, folk, and country. Haggard & Dedraggled is a good time and a whole heap of fun.  An album that every type of music lover can appreciate and should have in their collection.

Band members
Mip (Guitar, vocals, songwriting)
Greg Kowalczyk (Bass)
Shane MacPherson (Drums)

Tracks
Bedraggled
Hometown
Grand Marquis
Whiskey Ain’t Cheap
Beowulf
Sweaters
Danger Ranger
Stone Wall
Northern Lights
Hidden

Life With More Cowbell’s Theatre Reviews

   

A history of hurt – Gruesome Playground Injuries @ Theatre Centre

When we were kids, my brothers had this friend, Stephen MacDonald, who was always getting into accidents and seriously injured. Like the time they were playing leap-frog over those large chunky wooden stakes that acted as a kind of fence/vehicle barrier around the park near our house. Stephen slipped and his leg came down on the stake, tearing open the inside of his thigh. Then there was the time when he fell on his elbow and dislocated it so it was bending the wrong way. My mum was a nurse, so the kids invariably came running for her. Surprisingly, Stephen survived his childhood of freak injuries, and he and my brothers lost touch over the years as childhood friends often do. Hopefully, he’s still with us.

Seeing BirdLand Theatre’s production of Rajiv Joseph’s Gruesome Playground Injuries yesterday afternoon reminded me of that kid – and I’m sure everyone knows, or may have even been, a Stephen MacDonald – although, unlike the play’s character “Doug,” I don’t know that Stephen had a “Kayleen” as  a close friend and intimate witness to the his history of scars.

Kayleen and Doug first meet in the school nurse’s office when they’re eight years old. Doug – pretending to be Evel Knievel, complete with cape – rode his bike off the school roof and cut his head open, while Kayleen has ongoing stomach problems. And thus begins a history of Doug being injured and Kayleen being there to witness, always asking “Does it hurt?” – and Doug believing that Kayleen has some magical touch that makes him feel better. The action of the play takes place out of time and space – the actors entering from a door upstage left, dressed only in their underwear. They emerge, back-lit, through fog and a cacophony of indiscernible sounds (design by Christopher Stanton) – like the garbled voices of memory, alien and distant, almost like they’re onboard an alien spacecraft. The stage (set design by Joseph Pagnan, who also did costumes, and lighting by Gareth Crew) is set with a variety of macabre and medical pieces: bubble wrap bodies, in various states of dismemberment, hanging on chains and sometimes lit red from inside; a bike chained up on the stage right wall; a jungle gym-like structure of scaffolding pipes up left contains one of the twisted plastic corpses; and the hospital items – IV bags, a wheelchair, crutches. Projected photos and scene titles (designed by Jordan Tannahill) guide the audience through the shifts in timing and events, the actors changing costume onstage.

It’s not all nasty and pain, though. Gruesome Playground Injuries has great beauty in the relationship between the two characters – both living with physical and emotional pain, but unable to connect in the long term. Doug and Kayleen’s reunions occur around dire and painful events. It’s like their relationship is too painful to maintain, but too intimate to dissolve entirely. What was especially intimate and tender were the moments when the actors applied make-up injuries to each other, then wiped them off each other after each scene, reinforcing the love and support between these two characters. Powerful, moving and darkly funny performances from Peter Mooney and Janet Porter.

Gruesome Playground Injuries continues at the Theatre Centre until May 13. For more info, visit the BirdLand Theatre website: http://www.birdlandtheatre.com/

Brilliant crazy fun @ Alumnae Theatre’s Così

“Asylums are the most inefficient places on this earth.”

But they can be a very effective place to produce an Italian opera by Mozart.

Alumnae Theatre’s production of Così opened on the main stage last night. Written by Louis Nowra and directed for Alumnae by Jane Carnwath, assisted by Seema Lakhani, Così takes us on a crazy dream of a journey as we follow Lewis on his first job out of university: directing patients in a play at a mental hospital. The rag-tag assortment of patients, all with various conditions, is led by Roy, who conceived the project and is hell-bent on performing Mozart’s Così Fan Tutte. Only thing is, no one can sing opera. Or speak Italian.

The play takes place in early 1970s Melbourne, in a burnt-out, graffiti-riddled theatre. Ed Rosing’s set (built by Lionel Boodlal, Doug Specht & Michael Vitorovitch) and lighting design gives just the right atmosphere of grimy, charred destruction and darkness, gradually evolving as the play progresses to the opera performance – exploding into circus-like colour, lights and disco ball stars. Costumes by Margaret “The Costumator” Spence follow the same trajectory, going from somewhat shabby, worn 70s street wear to fantastical period costumes, as envisioned by the hospital’s occupational therapy group. Rick Jones’s sound design complements the physical design, bringing popular music of the time, as well as selections from the opera. Lighting and music combine beautifully – both at the beginning and the end of the play – to accompany the magic that Roy experiences as he dreams of becoming a part of the music of the spheres, book-ending a lovely lyrical fantasy.

Carnwath’s incredible cast includes some familiar faces from previous Alum productions, and the actors playing the patients did some especially nice work committing to their respective characters and their conditions: Joanne Sarazen (Lewis’s girlfriend Lucy), Jamieson Child (Lewis, previously seen in You Are Here), Ryan Kotack (Lewis’s friend Nick), Michael Vitorovitch (the unpredictable and likely bipolar Roy, GuineaPigging & You Are Here), Sean Speake (social worker Justin), Matt Brioux (pyromaniac Doug, stage debut – and he’s a natural), Christopher Kelk (the silent former lawyer Henry, Palace of the End), Patricia Hammond (impulse control-impaired Cherry, A Delicate Balance & The Queens), Tina McCulloch (Ruth, who has OCD, After Mrs. Rochester), Laura Vincent (heroin addict Julie, GuineaPigging, Palace of the End & Closer) and James Warner (pill-popping musician Zac).

Lovely work from this cast, who displayed commitment, passion and respect for characters who refuse to be defined by their conditions and are driven by a desire to rise above the chaos of their lives to create something beautiful. Just a few of the stand-out moments include: Ruth counting her steps as she sorts out her blocking; Cherry’s constant force-feeding of Lewis (her crush) and scary adeptness with a flick knife; Zac in lederhosen, playing Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries on accordion; and the various hilarious and astute pronouncements (like “Humility can limit you.”) issued by Roy throughout.

Holding all this together are co-producers Natalya Demberg (who, along with Sandy Schneider, put on a tasty opening night reception spread), Ellen Green and Barbara Larose. And presiding over the run from the booth is SM Margot “Mom” Devlin, who also operates lights, assisted on deck by intrepid ASMs Barbara Blonska, Sandra Burley and Pona Tran, and in the booth by sound op Emily Macnaughton.

Alumnae Theatre’s production of Così runs until April 28, with a talkback with cast and production team after the matinée on Sunday, April 22. Please visit their website for details and reservations: http://www.alumnaetheatre.com/1112cosi.html

p.s. – As promised, I added a few pics from The Beautiful and the Damned to yesterday’s post. Tonight, I’m off to George Brown Theatre School to see the third year class’s production of Orpheus Descending, featuring Tennille Read (who Alumnae Theatre folks/audience will remember from Lady Windermere’s Fan & Pride and Prejudice).

April 2012 New Issue!

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Check out our new Theatre Section, brought to you by Life With More Cowbell!  http://lifewithmorecowbell.wordpress.com/

Below are just snippets, for the full reviews click on the see more link.

Alumnae Theatre’s New Ideas Festival – Week three program

Week three was the strongest program of the festival – with sold-out houses for the end of the week and weekend. My pal Kerri MacDonald (one of the NIF co-founders) and I went to the Saturday matinée and had a blast.  see more.

Nightwood Theatre’s FemCab 2012 – strong, proud women inspire & entertain

I had not been to Nightwood Theatre’s annual FemCab (Feminist Cabaret) for many years – and I was so glad I went last night. see more

Alumnae Theatre’s New Ideas Festival – Week Two program

Good morning!

What do Auste-esque intruigue with puppets, magic realism in a life or death situation, an emotionally tortured biologist and a Brit romance novelist visiting Bali have in common? They’re the plays in Alumnae Theatre’s NIF Week Two program! see more

New Ideas – Week One reading & program

So now that we’re all recovering from St. Patrick’s Day festivities, here’s a run-down of Alumnae Theatre’s New Ideas Festival Week One reading and program from yesterday afternoon. see more

Reviewed by Anne. F. Walker

The QWERTY Institute of Cosmetic Typographical Enhancements
Author: Angela Szczepaniak
Publisher:  BookThug 2012
Cost: $25 CDN
Where to buy: http://www.bookthug.ca/proddetail.php?prod=201106&cat=95

The Apothecary
Author: Lisa Robertson
Publisher:  BookThug 2007
Cost: $12 CDN
Where to buy: http://www.bookthug.ca/proddetail.php?prod=361

FIELDNOTES, a forensic
Author: Kate Eichhorn
Publisher:  BookThug 2010
Cost: $18 CDN
Where to buy: http://www.bookthug.ca/proddetail.php?prod=201017

Recently Laura Moriarty, Deputy Director of Small Press Distribution in Berkeley, California, noted that Canadian poets seem to demonstrate an internalized idea that everyday people might read their work, and that this is different from Americans.  I like this idea.  It compliments my sense that Canadian poets as a whole are interested in avant-garde form, and yet remain invested in something tangible, sensual and/or concrete.  Canadian work seems located to me.  Three books which each maintain some of this particular aesthetic are FIELDNOTES, a forensic by Kate Eichhorn (BookThug 2010), The Apothecary by Lisa Robertson (BookThug 2007), and The QWERTY Institute of Cosmetic Typographical Enhancements by Angela Szczepaniak (BookThug 2012).

bpNichol was my first poetry teacher.  I studied with him at York University, and he mentored my poetry before his passing. Once I had asked him what a concrete poem (pond/frog) on his office door meant.  He had me figured out I think.  He said that when one writes in perfect syntax, with correct punctuation, one is working with the established power norms.  He said “fucking with language IS fucking with power.”  I understood.  I began to appreciate why we fuck with language, particularly in ways that invite readers to experience story and song differently.  It is part of a strong Canadian literary tradition, shifting things, exploring shifts.  All of these books work innovatively with form. Two of them open the alphabet into poetry sequences.

In FIELDNOTES, a forensic Kate Eichhorn’s film-script/poetry appears printed inside the cover in gray and black.  The title page on page three of the book is crowded by the prose poetry script that concludes with the lines: “SMASH TO END OF TEASER, ROLL TITLE CREDITS.”  Inside the pages are lyric poems in traditional left-justified form (“skin slippage / gloving / remains in a holding pattern” (16),) prose poems, bits of script. There are words and lines lined out.  A sense of the body and of place, of pattern, seem key.  The decomposition and re-composition we read in the structure appears over and over in the images: “Therapy can include drink.  Complete isolation. Knotted strings around necks. Blood boiled for steam.  Childbirth.  Thrashing.  Counteragents.  Coins” (51). Lists often indicate abundance, overage, too much to examine individually, thus the list.  This known use of the convention of lists in poetry makes heavier this collection’s specific content. FIELDNOTES, a forensic concludes on the inside of the back cover with a transforming list:

DOE, JANE you point and nod
DOE, JANE using a crowbar
DOE, JANE another coroner
DOE, JANE a set of bones
DOE, JANE the examining table
DOE, JANE forensics
label side of DOE, JANE
formalin-fixed DOE, JANE
no traces of Ecstasy DOE, JANE
chloral hydrate DOE, JANE
morphology DOE, JANE
toe tag on table dials skeletal remains
JANE DOE’S RECORDED VOICE
CUE SONG

Lisa Robertson starts out The Apothecary with:

Tersely I find myself beginning with the letters gl instead of grass undeniably to found a presumption of intimacy and station upon myself which would seem to speak not of that scission but of the really normal beauty still floundering between my teeth just as within the wilder dominion urges entertain and puddle seeming to offer proof that weekends once so drowsily couched and now algebraically supplied attach tenderness to symmetrical and embroiled vocabularies.

It’s a train ride that shifts tracks and doubles back.  What first caught me was that Robertson locates herself in language first, finding herself beginning with letters. She assigns emotion to this process, and negotiates how these letters are an “instead of” the very tangible “grass.”    Most of the prose poems use this technique of no periods in the stanza, or poem.  Aligned with bpNichol’s sense of disturbing syntactic norms, this practice pushes my expectation of closure at any given point.  Instead I find a turn replaces a stop. On page thirteen she begins an articulation of “the shimmying throat of an alphabet.”  For nine pages alphabetized titles and short prose poems roam. One italicized lyric poem pulls pages thirty-one and thirty-two, after that poem the prose poems do contain periods internally.  These poems work with the invisible rhythmic turns and twists of the (almost) period-less often-squared double-justified.

The QWERTY Institute of Cosmetic Typographical Enhancements by Angela Szczepaniak invites us into a contextual tone, ironic against the backdrop of this collection, in  “Normal”:

The QWERTY Institute recently put out a citywide call for characters who describe themselves—quite comfortably and without irony—as “normal.” The overwhelming number of candidates who met The Institute’s rigorous normalcy background check were asked a series of identical questions on topics ranging from current events, to art and politics, to the weather. Participants were urged to give their absolutely honest first responses—“the more naked the better” was, in fact, their only instruction. The results of this landmark study remain inconclusive, though its significance can hardly be disputed. The following represents a sampling of the compelling responses that colour the spectrum of “Normal.” The full study may be obtained from The QWERTY Institute for a small processing fee.

This tone is reminiscent to me of the film-script opening of FIELDNOTES, a forensic.  Not in a derivative sense, but in the sense that it instructs the reader on a manner with which to engage with the text.  This is poetry.  It is visual on-the-page.  It is slides, script fragments, large letters, small letters, letters replacing currency and buying bread, “trivia will take the place of paper currency—a loaf of bread will cost roughly 2 scientific facts & an obscure literary quotation” (10), imagined historic journals, comedy sequences, “This is a font comedian. Look at him. Observe him in his natural habitat, the deserted airport bar…” (16), security and passport documents, and and and…

The first eight-six pages are alphabetic concrete and “found” poems.  This pattern resonates with The Apothecary’s nine pages alphabetized prose poems.  It takes the idea in a completely different manner.  The sense, though, of exploring the alphabet through a series of intricately considered parts, is a common element. There is a section “Normal,” that starts on page eight, another on page 28, and on pages 87, 92, 155 and 225.  This is some playful, insane, off the map, narrative-infused, concrete, language poetry.  It forms surprising bridges, between ideas phrased in unexpected forms.  It messes with language in a quite bpNichol-esk tradition.

Already terrified of clowns and big yellow birds, Jeff Cottrill has now added weird green people who live in garbage can’s to my growing list of those to avoid on my journey into the ether-world.  Jeff Cottrill’s one man play, Grouch on a Couch has proven my theory about Sesame Street’s Oscar the Grouch that one should never judge a Grouch until they have heard their tales of woe.

Revealing life lessons with the help of a Bob Newhartesque therapist, the real Grouch surfaces, putting an end to Hollywood myths about his real image, history and resolve.  Grouch on a Couch reminds us that even when covered with the filth of the world, there is always a deeper, underlying story to be heard.

Written in the edgy, biting, realistic humour of Jeff Cottrill, Grouch on the Couch is a dark, gripping satire that should be both read and seen on a stage. After seeing Jeff perform live many times in the last few years, it’s hard not to love Grouch on a Couch and regain sympathy for the stinky man in the garbage can.

Pick up a copy and when the play is back on a stage near you, check it out.

You can also see Jeff at these upcoming shows:

Upcoming shows are listed on Jeff’s site, http://jeffcottrill.com/
In a nutshell:

Storytelling at Caplansky’s
April 22, 8:00
Caplansky’s, 356 College

Jammin’ on the One
May 11, 7:30
Arts and Letter Club, 14 Elm

Also doing Plasticine again in August.

First introduced to  Andrea Machett’s music at an open mic, and most recently hearing her play during the weekly songwriters series called Tumultuous Tuesdays, I’m familiar with this song writers storytelling lyrical stylings.  The sounds of a tasty acoustic guitar and the smooth tones of a beautiful voice make Words and Letters a delight to listen to.

Indie with a dash of Jann Arden, a pinch of Sarah Slean and good helping of acoustic vibrations, Andrea Matchett brings a light touch to a heavy world with gritty lyrics and vibrant riffs. The five song album is filled with great storytelling and a beautiful voice. If the listener can visualize a music video to accompany the music, the songwriter has done their job. Andrea Matchett’s music is a music video being played on a continuous loop.

As mentioned in the review, Tumultuous Tuesdays (https://www.facebook.com/groups/49857668943/) is a weekly songwriters series held at Graffiti’s in Kensington Market.  To see other outstanding performers such as Andrea, you should go check it out.

I look forward to hearing more from this amazing artist.

Andrea’s other links:
RN: http://www.reverbnation.com/andreamatchett
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/andreamatchettmusic
MySpace: www.myspace.com/andreamatchett
Twitter: www.twitter.com/andreamatchett
Facebook Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Andrea-Matchett/352499104241
Bandcamp: http://andreamatchett.bandcamp.com/

Tracks:
One Day
Mirror
Right Where I Began
A Series of Unfortunate Events
The Electric Man

Upcoming shows:
Kincardine on April 12th at the Walker House at 7 pm

April 28th at Kincardine Arts Center at 9 pm

July 14th somewhere on mainstreet Kincardine at 11:30 am (it’s for the Lighthouse Blues Festival)

CJ Sleez’s music is nostalgic of a crazy 90’s house party. Music cranked to eleven, speakers vibrating off the wall, neighbours pounding on the walls.

I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect when I loaded Valley of the Shadow into iTunes.  The album cover art is of a sexy blonde wearing corsets and stilettos.  I truly wasn’t expecting to hear high energy metal blasting out of my speakers when I hit play.  A proven case of don’t judge a book by it’s cover, as what is inside the jewel case is a helluvah good time.

Produced by well known Toronto music producer Rob Sanzo, this album has a powerful heavy metal edge.  A band like CJ Sleez would be a fanatically fun, rock your ass off, sweaty night in a live music venue.  I am very curious to hear them live and hope they book an upcoming show soon.  According to their website they play quite regular at The Bovine, hoping to catch them there soon.

Valley of the Shadow is CJ Sleez’s third album and they are about to release a special edition CD with the Italian Indie label Lunatic Asylum, that will be for sale in Italy, Germany, Austria and Switzerland.  If music isn’t keeping her busy enough, she is also working on my second book.

My only complaint is the CD is only 7 songs long.  With the heavy cost of production, I fully understand independent musicians limitations, but I was left wanting to hear more.

In the meantime, check out their website for bios on the band and merchandise.

CJ SLEEZ IS
CJ Sleez – vocals
Errol H – guitar
Stacy Stray – guitar
Norelle – bass
Danni Action – drums

Track List:
Back to Nowhere
Between Our Hate
In The Flesh
Burn Out
Cut & Pasted
Dirty Looks
Lowest Low

Upcoming shows:
Friday May 18th @ The Bovine.

Bands

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By pure serendipity I came across this CD.  It was mixed in with another package sent to me for review.  Another reviewer was supposed to review this CD but once I started listening to it, I claimed it for my own.  A mix of Motown style 50’s rock and roll such as Stone Cold Man to a 1930’s blues twist with In My Time of Dying and Skinny Girl, Soul Stack is the kind of music you listed to in on a sweaty July night. 

I am thick in the indie music scene and am surprised I haven’t heard of this band till now.  With strong blues guitar riffs reminiscent of Eric Clapton and Howl’n Wolf, Soul Stack has a very smooth sound with tight production.  According to the bio on their website, this album was recorded over a two day period in the winter of 2011. Two day recordings would be reminiscent of artists of the 50’s/60’s due to production costs, I’m not sure if this was the reason here or they were just in the groove, but this is one of the best two day recordings I’ve heard in a very long time.

Band members Jonathan Knight (vocals/guitar) and Tom Bona (vocals/drums) with the addition of Mark Wessenger (vocals/keys) and Josh Knight (vocals/bass) are a group of amazing musicians, who have pulled off what has become one of my favourite album’s of the year.  The album can be purchased through their website http://www.soulstack.com or through CD Baby. 

If you are in the Toronto area, they have a show coming up at The Dominion on Queen (July 14).  More info can be found on their Reverb Nation page (www.soulstack.com).

Track list:
1. Intro
2. Stone Cold Man
3. In My Time of Dying
4. Desperate Times
5. Since You Came Around
6. Skinny Girl
7. In Your Mind
8. Just a Natural Thing
9. River of Love
10. Holy Roller
11. Your Only Man
12. Let Me Be Your Fool
13. Miss Me

Scarlet Jane is a collaboration of two well know Canadian Indie artists Andrea Ramolo and Cindy Doire.  Dark, edgy and beautiful, when their songs reverb out of your speakers you visualize these two raven haired beauties playing in equally beautiful and intimate venues.  I’ve seen Andrea play a few times at the famous Dakota Tavern in Toronto.  The duo would definitely fit in at any Nashville type setting.

Songs such as Aching Heart, Burning Up and We’ll Never Be Found are emotionally wrenching, the lyrics written by two amazing storytellers.  Each song on Stranger are poetic masterpieces, painting vivid descriptions of experiences that all listeners can relate to.

The albums title song Stranger and Can’t Come Back have a much more upbeat feel. Can’t Come Back has a strong Rockabilly sound, reminiscent of a 50’s country rock and a very danceable tune.  Though I hate choosing favourites from any album I review, Can’t Come Back is at the top of my list.

Smooth, tight production value places this album in list of some of my favourites of 2012.  I can’t wait to see these ladies perform live.  They are currently on a cross Canada tour, details are on their website, if they are in a city near you, they are a must see.

Two beautiful women, two powerful voices, one absolutely amazing album!

Track list:

Wild Fire
Aching Heart
We’ll Never be Found
Ride On
Stranger
Beautiful
Can’t Come Back
Oh Darling
I’m Gone
Burning up

Troy Western’s latest EP “Rocks In A Bucket” put him on the road from his home in St. Catharine’s, Ontario to Canada’s east coast with his “Rocks & Fields” tour. “Feel The Love”, the lead track, can be heard in a series of videos from Commonplace Eco-Village on environmentally-friendly lifestyles. You can often find Troy performing around southern Ontario ranging from solo acoustic shows to those with the full band, as well as with a variety of guest musicians. Festival highlights include the Niagara Food Festival, the S.C.E.N.E. Music Festival, the Fort Erie Friendship Festival, the Fort Erie Music Festival, the Highland Creek Heritage Festival, and the Sammy Sugar Day Festival. He helped organize and performed at the hugely successful fundraiser “ANDREW’S FIGHT” in support of a friend and paramedic fighting cancer. Troy was featured on Brock University’s radio station, CFBU 103.7 on the show “Inside The Rhythm Hive” and on television on “The Source”, a community news and entertainment program in the Niagara region, wherein he talked of his passion for music, family, and creative inspiration. Some past experiences found Troy opening for Canadian rock group Big Sugar with an exciting acoustic version of “Oh Canada” that was met with exuberant cheers from the 200+ crowd. The 2006 Toronto Independent Music Awards recognized Troy with a nomination for “Best Classic Rock” for his song Into The Sun. He also earned by popular vote, the coveted “Featured Artist” spot on BreakingLocals.com, a networking website for musicians and fans alike. 

Find out where Troy Western’s journey is taking him now at http://www.TroyWestern.com. Join the adventure on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, or ReverbNation, or get his e-newsletter by emailing troynews@troywestern.com with the words “ADD ME” in the subject heading.

This passionate acoustic based performer has a melodic lovely voice that will haunt you long after you have listened to him. The first track “Feel the Love” is an upbeat rocking song with strong instrumental and vocals telling a tale of love and finding ones way home. The second track “Til the sunrise comes near” is a bit calmer but not lacking in story telling. My favorite was the final track “Look Around.” I love the beginning and I found it quite lovely to listen to, from the acoustic guitar to the harmonies. All in all, an enjoyable experience.

Biography

Troy Western is a singer-songwriter putting the ‘thunk’ into his folk-rock grooves. His music seems to have a slightly different edge that likely comes from his eclectic music tastes. While some have compared Troy’s sound to the Dave Matthews Band or Neil Young, many say they just can’t quite put a finger on it.

Tracks
Feel the Love
Til Sunrise Comes Near
Getting Home
Untitled
Look Around

Finally, someone in the Canuck indie scene has forged through the smithy of their souls poppy.  Ophelia’s Syndrome is an infectious combination of Kate Bush with Coldplay and are out of the common bread of the everyday ho-hum scene that we all have to endure to some degree or other. These days the celebration of the mediocre has reached some kind of apotheosis, whether endless revels of TV shows digging out the innards of pawn shop owner travail to Desperate House Wives of Bel Air to light bulbs for midgets.

This has to be the most banal cultural time in the Western Society. We have reached a kind of backwater awards show for the great unwashed, the philistines of the boondocks the bedrock of trash and detritus that should have been buried in some landfill but is instead dredged up and elevated to the light of day and then put a giant spotlight on it just in case you missed the point.

Fortunately we have groups like this Hamilton, Ontario wunderkind’s who, realizing this, explore this affect of Late Civilization, make fun of it and then dispose of it and move on especially in songs like, Passing Time, Heroes and Villains and As Long as There’s a Fight and Don’t Care. There is a kind of Cabaret element embedded in these tracks that adds irony to the lyrical refrains.

The band consists of Adrian McFarlane: drums, percussion Trina Nadeau: cello, percussion Deanna Wells: vocals, piano, B3, Rhodes, Wurlitzer, bells, percussion Josh Kohler: bass, vocals, percussion Andrew Barbisan: guitar, lap steel, vocals, percussion, siren Leon Furs – vocals, percussion, synthesizer, programming Loretta Hale: trumpet — all excellent musicians if somewhat lacking in imagination regarding arrangements but this is a small criticism  for this entertaining group’s  newest CD, released in April of this year. There are eleven tracks of which Passing Time and  Long Wait and How to Say Goodbye are the best pop tunes. Recorded at Catherine North Studios in Hamilton and produced by moon and 6 and Ophelia’s Syndrome. This CD has the listener friendly vibes of a winner for this group. Thumbs up!!

Tracks
Passing Time
Heroes and Villains
Today
Fight interlude
As Long as There’s a Fight
Don’t Care
Glue
Fire and Sea
Long Wait
Feet on Ground
How to Say Goodbye

MIP Power Trio’s Haggard & Bedraggled feels like a fun house party on a summers night.  I don’t remember the last time I had this much fun listening to a CD.  I found myself, on a few occasions, wanting to break out into dance while listening to Haggard & Badraggled on my iPod.  A little over a year ago I saw them for the first time at The Hard Luck Cafe.  That night, they not only stood out amongst the other bands they were on the bill with, the name Mip Power Trio has stuck in my craw since.

Growing up on Punk Rock music, I always appreciate when I can hear the influence in other musicians songs.  Mip’s quirky rock ballad’s such as Stone Wall not only have a punk influence, but there is some definite Rockabilly creeping out, making it one of my favourite tracks on the CD.

This album is a great mix of punk, folk, and country. Haggard & Dedraggled is a good time and a whole heap of fun.  An album that every type of music lover can appreciate and should have in their collection.

Band members
Mip (Guitar, vocals, songwriting)
Greg Kowalczyk (Bass)
Shane MacPherson (Drums)

Tracks
Bedraggled
Hometown
Grand Marquis
Whiskey Ain’t Cheap
Beowulf
Sweaters
Danger Ranger
Stone Wall
Northern Lights
Hidden

Goth rock has always been a tricky proposition, as almost by definition, it is a parody of itself or at least it gently and sometimes not so gently skirts over the line into self parody, in spite of itself. In fact, that is one of the biggest dangers that so many Goth rock bands face: how to do doom rock without having your audience indadvertedly laughing at your Peter Murphy sepulchral tones, basso gargoyling and world weary strum and drag lyrics.

From their ancestors Bauhaus (even before Bauhaus it could be argued that Black Sabbath practically invented DOOM OR GLOOM ROCK SO DIRECTLY INVENTED NOT JUST HEAVY METAL BUT INDIRECTLY INVENTED GOTH too?); anyway I am digressing  for a little gruesome history lesson.

All has been inherited whole sale by Canada’s Sex Without Souls in their newest, and in my opinion, best CD All For Nothing as Sex Without Souls invest the genre with all that has gone before, without crossing the line, except where it is a necessary corollary to the death’s head journey  ‘we-are-wearing- black-because-we-are-in-mourning=over-the-world’ kind of kitsch as is found in tracks like,  Is this the End , Woe is Me and even and especially,  Here in the Grave — ALL TRACKS that self consciously CROSS THE LINE; expertly played and delivered by the band and lead singer Brendan Bane who has the necessary dark velveteen vocal gifts and glib tongue and lyrical conceits that reinvigorate the goth form at the same time!

Whereas, tracks like Run From with its nod to Nine Inch Nails techno goth format leaves you nodding out to the catchy cracking the skulls existential riffs– Sex Without Souls version of Ginsbergs — Ballad of the Skeletons without the  disney outside my window squalling and upbeat end that make for the mass cop-out that is contained in most modern music.  The festering sores of the Modern World that so desperately needs the falseness of ‘everything-is-going-to-be-alright-in-the-end’ pop cult psychology that populate the best seller lists from year after year.

I love the hoary old organ church tones of the opening of I’m Drowning. U r at service & the preacher is Brendan Banes and company.(Brendan’s dad is actually a Christian minister). So maybe the irony is intended.

Then the next track, Nothing is Real with its nihilist refrains Ì believe that nothing is real ( cause your dead already) is hilarious and eerie at the same time. Again a lyrical nod to Trent Resnor with the `hole in your head’ adds to the macabre but upbeat comedic soul that is everywhere evident on this track.

All For Nothing is one of the best in this now popular genre of Rock to come along in a long time !!!! Check it out on Facebook Sex without Souls site for a free download and revel a little and see if it changes what you drink!

FIELDS was recorded over the course of a weekend, and features 6 excellent Canadian musicians from various genres playing their hearts out. The Mod Villains are Myke Mazzei’s folk-rock band, formed in the Winter of 2007. Each member, from the saxophonist to the percussionist to the songwriter, brings years of gigging and musical sweat, passion, and love to the group.

We play folk music, we throw in some distortion, and we finish with a mighty crescendo.

Myke And The Mod Villains are playing from the heart and soul of Canadian perspective, be it a dissolving trust in our national government (“Fade”) to wide-open sonic fields (“On Loneliness”).

This folk rock band has a troubadour style that is reminiscing of The Tragically Hip. Every song is a story. The first track “fields” is a folk jazzy number that is a great start to this five song EP, each song is unique in its own with a rock tempo, sax dressing and intriguing vocals.

The second track “been thinking” is a sweet little love song, the title says it all.  The third track “I go” gave me Manteca flashbacks, something in the opening, I have to say this was my favorite track. Short and as I said, sweet. “Hands of time” and “nobody’s saviour” are a great finish, nobody’s saviour with great harmonics and lyrically superb, with more of a rock edge.

It was hard to find any additional information on this group, as far as the where, what’s and whys of things, but I highly recommend checking them out if they are playing near you. Don’t sit in the dark, rambling again, get out there!!!

Check out more on upcoming shows at http://modvillains.com

How do you review something that is perfect? Yeah perfect pop for a GONE Gone world that is killing itself with bad bad songs and anti-melodic rap and hip hop galore. We need this Canadian duo Hayley Stark: beautiful to look at and to hear!! Do I sound like their publicist?? Maybe, but I do have to say I loved the EP sized three song CD  just a tad more than the more acoustic unplugged set of six songs that make up their other more  acoustic sounding 6 sing CD. That is like saying it’s less than perfect so that is not so bad!!!

The three song CD /EP Skirt is on Fire is produced by my friend Sean Gregory who did an out standing production job polishing the girl’s songs without polishing the life out of them.

For me Hayley Stark’s three song EP/CD had the better songs, especially Skirt is on Fire, which is a bona fide hit if there ever was one and second to that is ‘Take you Anywhere’ which did!!! Both songs and sound are characterized by the my word ‘folk rock pop’, their word power pop. The three song CD is also the more compelling work too  because it has a fully flavoured instrumental treatment with drums, bass, electric guitars, ambient sounds and percussive tracks added to the, I assume, originally acoustically conceived tracks where the six song CD Get Over  daring from 2009 it is, like I said before, more an acoustic set songs which are good in their own write  and almost as melodious.

I personally prefer Hayley Stark as  with the full band treatment for sure. Obviously they do too as this is the newer sounds on their newest release. On this level they compete with the best like Jewel et al. The duo has released a video officially for the song Skirt is on Fire. They have been performing for the last two years. Look out for them.  Who are they? Monica Julie and Jennifer Bryan look for them at local venue near you and check them on soundcloud.com too.

This is the debut EP from Austin, TX based rock band The Double Digit Hours. The group draws on a numerous influences ranging from Brit Pop, Ambient, Jazz, and Punk Rock to create their sound. This EP was recorded between a home studio and professional studio in Austin. Singer/Guitarist/Keyboardist Stephen Selvey wrote all the songs on the album and played a good deal of the instruments. Joining him is Drummer/Studio Engineer Don Dulaney who played drums and assisted with engineering the EP. Future plans for the group include a full length release and potential touring.

Prior to this band Stephen Selvey was part of a Virginia based rock/folk band named “A Fine Line” and a rock/punk band named “Friendly User.” They site influences such as Radiohead, Aqualung, Death Cab for Cutie and Pink Floyd as influences.

It was difficult to find much information on this band, they seem relatively low key, and I could not even find any upcoming show listings. SOOOO…..based on that I gave the EP a listen and was pleasantly surprised. The tracks start off with “Coma”, an ambient ballad that is easy on the ears, retrospective and a nice beginning. My favorite was “All the rain.”

Check out more on upcoming shows for at http://www.myspace.com/thedoubledigithours

Tracks
Coma
Counting Down
Drifting
The Mirror
Sunlit Window
All The Rain
Carry On
One Thing To Give Away

Captain Midnite is an Alternative vocalist as well as a Hip-Hop/Pop beat-maker based out of Seattle, WA. His most recent work, the Purple Heart Vendetta EP produced by Casey Bates (producer of Chiodos, Pierce The Veil, Portugal. The Man), can be described as a Progressive Post-Hardcore record in the vocals and instrumentation while maintaining a Hip-Hop influence within the construction of the beats.

Captain Midnite is also well known for his work as a beat-maker/producer for Hip-Hop and Pop musicians as can be seen on his project I Brought Dead Flowers to a FUNeral EP with Big Boi’s Purple Ribbon Records recording artist, Kyle Lucas, and also on his beats/production on T. Mills’ Finders Keepers EP. Midnite is known in the local Seattle scene for his work with his rap supergroup The Let Go (One of Airwalk/AP’s top 10 unsigned bands and Seattle Weekly’s Reader’s Choice Best Local Musicians) and also his work with the locally proclaimed “Seattle’s prince,” Sol.

This guy is all over the place, just like a super hero. I checked out his myspace and blogs and twitter, and facebook and he is an advertising campaign personified!! Not only is this guy cute his remixes and delivery are compelling to say the least. His lyrics stick in your mind, with his breathless antics that can turn instantly into another realm of sound that reflect pain and anguish in the next minute. He has an alternative and death metal thing happening all at once while still tossing in the acquired amount of hip hop/beats to drive the girls crazy in the dance clubs.

Cool stuff, watch for more from this up and coming artist.

Check out more on upcoming shows at http://www.myspace.com/captainmidnitemusic

Tracks
1. As I Sow The Dragon’s Teeth
2. Garnett
3. Coldly Tuned
4. Death By Remedy
5. Lone Spirit Load

The Band Members
Travis Champman – Violin
Shawn Steven – Vox/Guitar
James Logan – Guitar /Vox
Charlie Fisher – Bass/Vox
Jesse Tranfo – Precussion

First of all the name of the group is “And I was like, what?” which is pretty cool really. Having said that, this fresh sounding group hails from Portland OR, which is a very green hilly lovely place and has a booming Indie scene, and there is definitely a northwest flavor, and the lovely violin interlaced throughout is very appealing to this reviewer. A troubadour type band who claim they derive influence from Jawbreaker, Murder by Death, Appleseed Cast and Piebald to name a few.

This cute, bearded band has a great sound, and I was drawn to their sound like a cat to catnip. I have to say again the electric violin is a kicker and pulls it all together nicely making this band stand out a bit above the norm.

It is hard to find out much about this band other than they are friends who grew up together and sing about life, love, relationships and all things real. Maybe not macho but very real. I look forward to more from this band.

Check out more on upcoming shows at http://www.myspace.com/andiwaslikewhatyeah

Tracks
Secular Eyes
idiots bloom
birthday suite
concerning distance
passing cars
f#
8:55 am

Christian D & the Hangovers hail from the Toronto scene and are out there proving their worth on stage and in the studio. Formerly of local rockabilly group Real Gone, vocalist/guitarist Christian D, along with drummer Mick E. Special come together in Hangovers alongside guitarist Brendan Bauer and bassman Mack Black. This is an awesome first EP and they show us that they are not fooling around. Their 2008 EP, Life Gets in the Way, with new long-player Shake It… Or Leave It, is likely something that won’t leave you anytime soon!!

Shake It… Or Leave It! showcases the talents of the in abundance, with Hangovers buoyant down to earth rock, and twelve upbeat and not drawn out songs. Straight shooters, these guys.

They songs have a sort of theme to them, you know guys stuff, like ladies and partying and booze and all the things that go with that to make life fun, interesting and tolerable. This reviewer particularly like the vigorous song “Shimmy Shorts”, and “Cornfed Dames”, as well as “Life Gets In The Way.” These are a lot of rock and billy and a healthy dash of naughty as well, and who doesn’t like that bad-boy image?

The opening song “Vampire Rocker”, storms is rockabilly on crack, with lots of guitar, drums and in your face vocals. Smart to go with the whole vampire mania of late, and who doesn’t like a vampire as well? The Hangovers have a kind of a “stray cats” feel. All in all very pleasing and somewhat addictive.

Shake It… Or Leave It! uses producer Jesse James Dale, who is the frontman Buzz Deluxe, and has moonlighted on occasion with the Hangovers so he knows how they work. Shake It… Or Leave It! is a really good first album for the Hangovers, and I am anxious to hear more.
Check out more on upcoming shows for at http://christiand.ca/home

Tracks
Vampire Rocker
Life gets in the way
Shimmy Shorts
Good Woman
Mr. Handsome
Sleep my life away
Child of the east coast
Baby Jane
Hot Mess
Hillbilly Heroin
Cornfed Dames (The Cramps)
Dime a dozen

Track Listing
1. Orange Peel (Original Mix)
2. Jack Daniels (Original Mix)
3. Two is Better That One (Original Mix)
4. Boo! (Original mix)
5. Unicorn on the Cob (Original Mix)
6. McGangBang (Original Mix)
7. Flow (Goofstep Remix)
8. Bacon & Eggs (Original Mix)
9. Padraic McDonagh (Original Mix)

Nice and slow, build it up, let ‘er rip.

Gooffee’s most recent release titled Unicorn on the Cob is constantly pumping you up for what’s to come. Whether it be for something beautiful, whether it be for something fun, it’s hard not to be drawn into the rise that Gooffee is constantly building. You are given the constant feeling of greatness to come within every track. They are each carefully measured and seem to prepare you to be blown away by what’s about to happen in the next 30 seconds, only it doesn’t stop there. It’s all rise all the time.

Gooffee sees no limits, and that includes their genres. Unicorn on the Cob delivers a fresh new take on several EDM styles such as House and Dubstep. With a firm belief that every track should incorporate something old, something new, and something unique, Gooffee delivers what could easily be called the most diverse electro album that Toronto has seen since the Dubstep invasion landed.

Orange Peel is the first track on the album and is a wicked preview of what is to come. Starting off with it’s shimmery and hip-hopesque synths you figure you’re in for some rap any second but instead you’re bombarded with a thick textured drop. Wasting no time to show off their new Dubstep skills, you’re quickly invited to hear the dirty grit we’ve all been craving. With dirty and gritty being common words to describe Dubstep in general, there’s nothing common about their sound. My favorite part of this album is just how diverse it is, while still holding a trademark sound. Between Jack Daniels, Padraic McDonagh, and Bacon & Eggs, you can tell just how extensive their genre bending goes. Padraic McDonagh especially sticks out on the album for it’s completely different, exceedingly vibrant sound. Where House and Dubstep usually aim to give you that deep bass face grin with a “filthy” approach, Padraic provides a really light hearted feeling.

The most important elements of this release are a tie between the variety it offers and the unique sound. You can play this album over for hours without getting sick of it, and there’s a track for any mood you’re in. It changes between genres while still holding tight to Gooffee’s playful trademark sound. Please do yourself the favour of downloading this gem for free.

Set List
1. I Don’t Want to Be You
2. Can’t Concentrate
3. Let’s Not Fall in Love
4. Thinks Too Much
5. Beautiful Waste of Time
6. Think You Know Just Who You Are
7. What’s She Doin With Him?
8. Headphones On
9. Something About You
10. I Got the Girl
11. Make Up Your Mind
12. Guess You Don’t Mind

Garage Baby is a garage rock revival band from Toronto ON, although front man Michael Bennet has been in the UK for the last 15 Years. Upon arrival in Toronto, Michael reunited with old friend and former band mate James Paul. With Michael on the lead guitar and vocals, James on bass, it only took Claude Kent’s hand at the drums to complete the punk rock trio.

My first opinion of them upon seeing them in the flesh was that they looked like they had been playing in bands like this for awhile. Gray hair jokes aside, they had that UK Garage Rock look to them, and I was pretty stoked to hear what was about to happen.

They started off with the track “I Don’t Want to be You,” and it was fantastic. It was fun, and upbeat with a splash of Rock and Roll. Maybe it was a long day of work before hand, but thier energetic and fun style really took me by surprise. Mike and James both got loose and moved around the stage with the kind of youthfulness I didn’t quite expect from the gray haired first impression. This track was definitely their trademark track, but that’s not to say the rest of their songs weren’t good.

As the next few tracks had gone by, I was terribly sorry that I was seated. I wanted to be in a crowd of like minded individuals and pumping my fists. Some tracks were more serious than others, some were about girls, and some where it didn’t really matter what they were about because they were just a lot of fun to hear.

They were on time, they didn’t make any mistakes, and they didn’t slow down either. I was watching Claude sweat his black rim glasses right off his face, but nothing was going to stop them from having a good time. Their performance was very solid, and their stage banter was both amusing and appropriate to their personalities. Th songs were a little short, but it only meant that we got to hear more of them.

The Shanks started their foray into rock and roll high school in the township of MONO, which is near the Orangeville area. Perhaps there is a farm involved and lots of open space and a used vintage clothing store nearby. There in the quiet of the evening sun the Shanks perfected their bass and drum onslaught, creating a whopping sound despite their few numbers. The memorable vocals of Pistolwhip Von Shankenstein in comparison to the understated drumming (we are not talking white stripes drumming either) makes for an interesting and fun creation.

Shanken Stein in a colorful self creation and his foray into the unknown is rich with stage presence as well as hard hitting rock and roll, interesting lyrics and a bass line that keeps you wanting more. It is not the length of this disc but rather what they manage to pack into something that is rather short but plenty on sweet that makes this so appealing.

Definitely a must listen to.

Tracks
Bastion of Sebastian
The Undefeated Donkey
Killing Tune
Mirror, mirror
Jesus make it fun
Napoleonic Dread Pt. 1
The Matador
Christmas Star
Start Taking you Home

Tracks:
1. Entertainment
2. Let’s Get Sentimental
3. Coronado’s Dead
4. Closer
5. Dance Sequence
6. Working
7. Fine Examples
8. December
9. Knowing Your Own End
10. Best Day Ever

BC rock band  Acres of Lions have a new CD release in this age of the anti-pop single they have dared to pen a small number of  pop rock classics.  So you can murder your picks with air guitar playing to the catchy riffs that abound on these tunes.

Combining the sonorous ethereal vocal style of Coldplay with the pop rocking chops of melodious commercial not commercial rock music of our own late lamented Northern PIkes (a Nineties Ontario band that reigned in Canada ohh so many years ago) married to latter-day Alt Rock of Our Lady Peace and you get some idea of the sound of these Canadian boys.

Their ‘Working’ CD was recorded and produced in British Columbia Canada– the last bastion of Brits-Cult rules in the former colonies.

The best listener friendly singles are: the opening track ‘entertainment’, with its touching look at the thin line between out and out exitainment and selling-out-trying-to-please-everybody entertainment and where that takes your soul as an artist; ‘Closer’ with its Universalist hoped for universe that strikes a chord in everyone and join hands–( one can only hope and isn’t this a grand thing); ‘Knowing your own end’ s menage lament about the end of a relationship  being the end of the world (when it is just beginning)
and finally the last track ‘This was Not my best day ever’ that talks about how we as a species will never really heal and the transforming role of the imagination in delaying the knowledge of this mordant conclusion.

ALL are highly catchy tunes full of the standard  pop rock guitars thrashings that have been heard a Zillion times before. AT Least the lyrics are broader in content and intent beyond the usual solipsism that make so many of today’s lyricists so unbearably self-absorbed and SO removed from so much of their audience’s ability to be included.

Rocquette is a rockin, loud, punchy and most definitely sexy band. With a stellar line up of original tunes this CD boasts a range of rock that you can definitely listen to again and again. The music is strong and sound and heavy hitting, with a straightforward appeal.

The band was formed 2005 in Austria by Barbie Hardrock and Thomas “TMP” Perry. With some initial and expected growth from the first releases this band became direct, rock-solid, and commanding hard rock. Their live shows are guitar energized and a load of fun. In June 2007, the first official Rocquette album “Too Fast For Love“ was performed live during a Release Gala Show at the Gasometer Vienna theatre to an adoring crowd.

In 2009 the final line up of Rocquette was completed when drummer Jam “Puffman” Puffler and rhythm guitar player Alexander Handl joined the band. Handl, who has a reputation of squeezing his guitar until you feel great orgasmic ear-explosions, was a welcome addition. These rockers add the musical backbone that creates and emphasizes the heavy hitting yet very melodic sound that is Rocquette.

These rockers live up to their name, rocking it hard at shows and concerts. SO get your roc on with Rocquette now!!

Check out more on upcoming shows at http://www.rocquette-music.com

Tracks

Christmas Vacation
Too Fast
Between
My Fuel
TSWAHAN
Maybe
Jelly Baby
Rising Up
Evoked
Day off
Yesterdays Love Songs
Song about Nothing
Lesbian Story
Old Story
Snowman’s Last Sunrise
Perfect Day
Big Alex“ loves to squeeze his guitar ..till you feel great orgasmic ear-explosions  wallow in your vanes and freezes your neck up to your deepest mind… or something like that.

Cancel The Astronauts are a five-piece pop band from Edinburgh. Writing tunes about stalking and inappropriate lusting and stalking and sexing and stuff, and other songs with guitars in and nice beats you can dance to.

Their debut EP is available… now! In download form from itunes and napster and emusic . Physical copies with a lovely sleeve that you can touch with your hands and stuff are available at gigs and via the paypal button on their website http://www.canceltheastronauts.co.uk.
They have shared the stage with such acts as Frightened Rabbit, Found, Attic Lights, Parka, Juno!, Meursault, The Kays Lavelle, Come On Gang! Kid Canaveral and many more.

Time for some music!

Track Listing for their E.P I am the President of Your Fan Club and Last Night I Followed You Home
I am the President of Your Fan Club And Last Night I Followed You Home
Country Song
Late In the City
Love Somebody
Let’s Go Expo

This cute little E.P starts off with the title track I am the President of Your Fan Club and Last Night I Followed You Home, a true freeks and geeks dance track. It paints a picture very clearly about a boy who’s so drawn to a girl, that he indeed follows her home. Creepy? Impossible when you produce a sound so cute and innocent. This is how I imagine care bears lust over each other. Guaranteed to make you blush.
Country song and Love Somebody continue the cute sound with some light hearted indie rock that feels reminiscent of The Killers with a more young and in love kind of twist to it. I really can’t express the cute part enough. The vocals really make the song flow the way it does, keeping a fun dance like beat to the track even when it’s slow. Melodic and beautiful. Keeps you tapping your feet when you try and catch your breath for the slow parts.

Let’s Go Expo brings out a very different side of the band. It has a darker, more Door’s influenced start, and then a little faster tempo telecaster rock sound for some big contrast. This is a big one up in my books, slower slows, lower lows, and higher highs. I feel like this track really completes the album and gives it the diversity that makes it a great listen.

This E.P is just so much fun. I highly suggest listening to this in the car on the way to the bar on a Friday night. Or even just on the ride to work. There’s something about their style that is very mood elevating and makes you want to be social. What a fun listen.
Should you want to reach the band, they can be contacted at band@canceltheastronauts.co.uk

British Nu Jazz group (led by the excellent poet Clive Stevens) Mandoria’s eighth  cd ‘Invisible Intelligence’ (nice title that) is here. The title is cribbed from a quote that is not credited but included on the cd liner notes. Well, what we have here is Enigma meets enigma meets enigmas nu jazz meets a long line of quivering Quaaludes— THAT IS NEW AGE NOISE FOR NEW AGE GURLS AND BOiZ……. et al.

There is  a long list of influences from  Bartok through Gerry Mulligan to Bach: usually when someone gives their influences in such great numbers— names that run on  and on and on like a leaky faucet that can’t be fixed — ohh so torrential the storm of names you know when some one has this many so called parents that they haven’t actually got any! and 2. they don’t know who they are yet, God help us!!??

This is what I call Avante Garde— that is’ haven’t gotta clue’ kind of music that is, to use Rock critic Lester Bang’s old phrase,  ‘a triumph of artifice’, all over the place and no place at the same time.— musical sterility with nothing to say— that says that nothing very well and maybe that is the point– this kind of over weened wimpy form of musical nihilism we have all seen and heard before and needs no reintroduction in to the body politic of Rock.

I will say one thing though, the guy has great titles (he is a good poet after all): palace of tears, tiger from venus, bombay bizarre etc etc. reads like a surrealistic cornucopia of crapulous conceptual art pieces done by that pop-in-jay  poop of avante garde poop art, andy withdrawal, Thumbs down but ohh so softly!!

Tracks
CETACEAN SEA
EVERYTHING YOU ARE
PALACE OF TEARS
TIGER FROM VENUS
SUN DAY MUSIC/MORNING
BOMBAY BIZARRE
SUN DAY MUSIC/AFTERNOON
RHAPSODY 4 NU TIMES
DEEP TRANSCENDENTAL

The Band Members
Mathias Kom : ukulele, guitar, vocals
Jill Staveley : guitar
Mike Duguay : synths, glockenspiel, melodica, accordion
Jenny Gleeson : accordion, bass
Darcy McCord : cello
Adam DeMarsh : drums
Steve McNabb : trumpet, banjolele
Nick Ferrio : lap steel, bass
Jenny Mitchell : omnichord, banjo
Charlie Glasspool: piano
Dave Hartley: harmonica
Geordie Gordon: violin
Alison Corbett: violin
Darren Browne: mandolin, bass

Mathias Kom and large ensemble from Peterborough, Ont., start off this unique CD with a song about a fetus planning its life in the outside world, believe it or not. It is amusing and witty and I love the Toronto Zoo reference, and the Saxophone reference with the Sax tiptoeing in the background. Simplistic and brilliant. Ok, so where does this CD head after this sort of beginning. I found myself on a trip through the eclectic and eccentric.

Lead singer Mathias Kom has a sort of Leonard Cohen, deep poetic sing/speak kind of vocals, which is completely charming. The band takes a new take on life, writing in a place that is lost these days, a look at the world in a way that you just do not hear anymore. “Everybody needs a body” was my favorite, from the needing a job to watching a squirrel get hit by a car. Because we have all been there, and every good album does need a slow song or two.

This cold Saturday morning is warmer now with the finding of Burning Hell. A true troubadour and smile evoking lyrics of Mathias Kom maintain an air of fun while being original and sincere. I may have to go to Hamilton to check them out!!

Check out more on upcoming shows at http://www.wearetheburninghell.com/

Tracks
Our World
Daneer/Romaneer
Everybody needs a body (to be somebody)
The things that people make. Part 2
Mosquito
Grave Situation. Part 3
Precious island
Animal Hides
The Berlin Conference
When the world ends

Individually, Vancouver B.C. residents Wendy Atkinson and David Lester are skilled, accomplished musicians. Atkinson has delivered two solo bass records, while Lester plays guitar for local indie mainstays Mecca Normal. Together, the pair has combined to record the aptly-titled Guitar & Bass Actions, an instrumental album that has a free form feel to it, much like when Lenny Breau was let loose on his own in cabin fever. This is a guitar combination that could rock it out in an opposite universe.

It is like a duo of sorts, dancing around each other in a skilled, yet at the same time, remarkably easy way. I sense a use of non-traditional techniques that lend structure and narrative to the otherwise loosely assembled songs. Lester and Atkinson stand firmly on their own; with a sound that is moody and exaggerated, each song reaching momentum in a very enjoyable way. The sounds are distinctive, almost overlapping with some techniques that I cannot put my finger on.

Check out more on this band, and upcoming shows on http://www.myspace.com/wendyampdavid

Tracks
1 Grin
2 Happy Tune
3 In Between
4 No Time to Waste
5 Ohrwurm
6 Wait and Go
7 Lucky Well
8 Killing Time
9 The Life
10 Raining Gold Stars

First off it must be said up front and in plain sight that I am a huge fan of Canadian pop act Blue Venus and ergo this review will be pretty biased if not wholly uncritical. That being said I must say Blue Venus have a strange career in that the nucleus of this music group Andrea and Dev, who also happen to be husband and wife, are not gigantic pop stars by now. This may be a peculiar problem of the Canadian music industry per se and if it is it exposes the weak support structure that makes up the geographically dispersed nature of Canada as well as the unbelievably myopic and inferiority complex driven nature of A and R persons in and on Canadian labels that ignore yearly a plethora of great local Indie Toronto talent. I don’t think I am tilting at any particular windmills here. The consensus is that for the most part the same dunderheaded dinosaurs like Nickel Back, (or as I once wrote, I Want my Nickel Back),and their sound-a-like little brother band,Theory of A Deamman get awarded time again with contracts, label support and Junos while the dozens and dozens of worthier acts are craning their knecks just trying to get a look see. This is the peculiarly weird if somewhat predictable position that this wonderful group Blue Venus is in but I digress.

Blue Venus has released it’s second Cd, Grin only a few weeks ago. Right away the tone of the music on this disc is wholly other than their first self titled CD. There is a much more conscious effort to craft popily melodic tunes with singalong choral effects them in the previous disc which while certainly tuneful highly listenable was much more Jazz driven  both in tonal qualities and in song structure.

The best of example of this new Pop sensibility is the second track on Grin CD, a song which should be their first single release: ‘Happy Tune’ which literally has giant hit written all over it. Happy Tune self consciously and ironically comment on its won need for positive listenable up beat reflection and joie de vivre. Written by Andrea De Boer, Derim Eldelekli and Matt DeMatteo, (who also cowrote with Andrea and Dev, ‘No Time to Waste’ and ‘Raining Gold Stars’), lyrically posits the musical question as to the viability and necessity for its own existence and thus reflecting  and poking fun at the owner’s and possibly the band’s previous efforts and their own collective tendency towards a less cheerier disposition.  Thus Happy Tune answers it’s own hard won question as to what is better solution not just for the singer and the listener but for the band and its career.

The result is a pop tune so infectious in tone, pitch and delivery by the increasingly melodic and charismatic Lady Gaga singing of Andrea De Boer that for this reviewer Happy Tune has to be one of the greatest hit singles I have ever heard from any so-called, Indie Canadian musical group in the last twenty years!!!!!!!!!!!!

In fact,  in songs like No Time to Waste and Killing Time the band is marking it’s musical journey with song refrains and titles that practically tell themselves to beat a hasty retreat from it’s first CD’s Jazzier more esoteric songwriting craft and feel. It’s as if many of the songs are cheerleaders egging the band on to a bigger picture and a higher plain.

This poppy melodic net that Blue Venus is now casting will win them many more fans I predict. Even the opening track ‘Grin’ with its refrain: ‘My future then seemed dim …. then Blue Venus spend the rest of the album in songs such as In between and The Life and Happy Tune and Lucky Well, to cast this prediction utterly into the dustbin of Canadian Indie pop history  and in effect jettison all doubt that Blue Venus will not instead rise to the stardom  that they always deserved.

Band Members
Cynthia Gould
Mandy Wells
James Roy Daley

Tracks
how small is it
nerdy
coattails
10 more minutes
big dumb rock songs

Punk Rock by definition was only supposed to last a minute. If you went longer than that you were defying the punk ethos if not the esthetics of Punk  and you WERE NO Longer Punk!!! The  avatars of this conceptual construct were The Sex Pistols whose in-house theoretician was a bright snotty young Irish kid named Johnny Rotten. For Rotten everything before them was Rotten ergo punk meant you had no heroes; ‘they’re all useless…. only relevant to their mums and dads’…..

That is one theory: the other Punk theory is that you’re punk because ‘you do it yourself’, mate!!’  Everything from production to playing to bookings to putting together a CD to packaging to promotion is all DIY!!! . i.e. your Punk forever if it’s all home made and stays that way.–the sell out to bigger and better climes and all the detritus that goes with this makes your cred null and void.

Toronto’s newest addition to the latter day’s concept of Punk ethos is a local underground power punk sensation (I have seen them live and can vouch for this!!) is High Heels LoFi.

Even their songs indirectly promote the kind of DIY brand of punk pop sensibility such as Big Dumb Rock Songs (which is also the title of this five Song Ep/CD) and ’10 more minutes’ and ‘Nerdy’ even.

What High Heels LoFi brings to your party though is something Punk and post punk/grunge bands lack in spades which is a sense of humour couched in somewhat sardonic refrains and even self deprecating lyrical pastiches,(again Big Dumb Rock Songs is the apotheosis of this).

This rock trio of two gurls and one guy lead by lead singer Cynthia Gould are forever asking the question: How small is IT? WELL … that is a good question. How small are you going to be and continue to be??? Good question for any band to ask itself and even it’s fans which High Heels Lo Fi have many and many!!

The Ep/cd called Big Dumb Rock Songs (implying that all the tracks on it are thus to be ever thus), is produced by Mike Bryant in a stripped down home made fashion which most of the time manages  to catch the energy that this band has displayed in ample form in concert sits. that i have witnessed opening for them with my group Tyranny of
Love.

Only one song lacks the spack that they display and that is the opening track ironically titled, ‘How Small is it?? But this is a small criticism for a debut CD that celebrates HOMEMADE values and sticks to it. How far the band will go with this is anyone’s guesstimate???

Highly recommended!!!

Two Thumbs up and a finger!!!

The Band Members

The Rhythm Section
Jeff Pflaumbaum – Piano, Synth, Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals, Percussion
Gaku Murata – Guitars
Jacob Bartfield – Bass
Mauricio Zottarelli – Drums
Andres Espinoza – Percussion
Tim Butterworth – Hammond B3
The Lef’ Coast Horns
Tim Nunnink – Flute, Alto, Tenor, and Baritone Sax
Doug Meeuwsen, Karl Soukup – Trumpet
Richard McGuane – Alto sax
Fred Biven – Trombone
Gabriel Sundy – Baritone Sax

Additional Players
Jeff Perry, Scott DeOgburn, Stefan Colson – Trumpet
Daniel Ian Smith – Alto and Baritone Sax
Darryl Lowery – Tenor Sax
Robynn Amy – Trombone
Tim Mayer – Baritone Sax
Ted Paduck – Guitar
Mark Johnson – Acoustic Guitar
Erik Mattox, Rachel Baum, Heidi Kaufmann, Laura Kaufmann, Susan Rubin – Vocals
The Rogers Five: Jesse, Luke, Sam, Levi, and Hope – Children’s Choir
Anjali Fox, Ryan Hanser, Erik Mattox, Lisa Mattox, Ted Paduck, Lisa Pflaumbaum, Hu Qiongwen, Dan Rogers, Mike Rusinak – Spoken word

Big Band. Lots of horns. America’s self proclaimed largest Rock Orchestra. Well this reviewer was in a little bit of heaven. in the spirit of all the great horn-bands of the late 60’s and 70’s and in the hope of the great songwriter/composers Jimmy Webb, Brian Wilson, Vangelis, Aram Schefrin & Michael Zager, Michael Kamen, and others. The Wings of Fire Orchestra is a six-horn, mixed vocal, 5-piece rhythm section ushering in a new age of conceptual rock n roll. Prospice is their second studio recording.

The Wings of Fire Orchestra is completely original. It is an Indie, Rock, and Jazz with a lot of horn tossed in. It is like an all day concert all rolled into one. I was very impressed, but I find I do not know where to start. My instinct is to just say go buy this and see for yourself, as I am sure it appeals to each person on an individual level. They have managed to blend the classic symphonic sound with some serious rock and roll, not withstanding a bit of funk as well. Harmonizing, story telling, simply put, genius.

It was very Rock Opera, each track a story telling, so much so that when one listens and closes their eyes you imagine a theatrical production behind each song, the tempo increasing or subsiding, the horn section in full swing, one can imagine a packed dance floor, heads tipping to the groove, or a stage filled to tempo.

I cannot even comment individually on each track, one must experience this for themselves. This CD is definitely making its way to my ipod!!

Check out more on upcoming at http://www.wofomusic.com/ or http://www.myspace.com/wingsoffireorchestra

Tracks
1) The Real Fire
2) Lyin’ In The Fields Alone
3) There’s A Lamp And Light To Follow
4) Delta Street
5) Fading Flower
6) The Arch Fear
7) I Wanted To Love You All
8) …And The Elements’ Rage
9) Change, Become
10) Nearing The Place
SIDE 2
Oh Busy Air (in four parts)
11) Cielo
12) Nuvoloso
13) Ventoso
14) Tempesta
15) Jockey Gun (the underscore)
16) Words Of Change
17) VIXI
18) Matthew 18:

Tracks:
N PIECES
SUICIDE BOMBER
THE WORLD MAKES YOU OPEN YOUR EYES
SIREN’S COVE
LET DOWN
WITHOUT A DOUBT
JUST A REMINDER
TOXIC TEAR
HOLLY HOLLYWOOD
DEADICATION

Does a rock act that revels in its punk rock act have the necessary street cred and the real live juice to be real. In the mid Seventies when I was a teenager the no. 1 phrase that people kept poppin’ at me was, ‘Don’t get real, man’, It was in every way the only way to be. Nobody back then,  especially teenagers dazed and confused and otherwise employed by the Counter Cult of Rock Music wanted genuine emotions to surface: stay cool stay frosty.

Nowadays that has in many respects returned, added to which there is the don’t get real and don’t talk about real issues other that your poor myopic self centered self. Lady Gaga as good and charismatic as she is and even funny at times is nothing if not about and entirely about herself just like all the other dunderheads that populate the scene in contemporary Roc Pop and Hip Hop and Rap etc etc.

This Canadian Indie Rock trio, Streamlined actually are real and are real lyrically in a  away that has been missing in action for a long time.

The band contains two brothers, Jeff and Justin Fulford, originally from Newfoundland, and a third member Sean Maclean who used to work in the same music store back east.

Streamlined is the name of the band and the name of their first CD and is recorded at Streamlined studios.

Streamlined actually has something to say about a subject that is not themselves— what a revelation!!!!!! This is readily evident but simply checking out the song titles:  Suicide Bomber, The World Makes you Open Your Eyes, Toxic Tear, Holly Hollywood and Deadification.

Are they Canada’s answer to the equally weight socio/polit.  Fingerpointing of Ireland’s  Grunge greats, The Cranberries. I would state emphatically yes, except for one proviso: the band simply doesn’t have the charismatic warbling of a Cate O’Riordan but that is not to say the vocals aren’t compelling in a sort of avuncularly cool  ironic way.
This group also boast some more seductive tracks like Siren’s Cove and Without Doubt too.

So two thumbs up for the new Canadian power punk trio and let’s see if they can keep wearing their integrity shirts in the compromising seas of todays pop musical slop!!!!

The Band Members
Brock Flores
Joe Fraley
Aaron Arkenburg
Andrew Zuber
Kenny Wood

Klum’s second full-length album, We Carelessly Turned Amazingly Into Nothing, shows a chemistry, playfulness, quality of work and excellence, that may be disguised in their unpredictable approach. Klum is a hard working, exciting band that takes the word unique to a new level having an array of melodies so infectious and elevating that one cannot help but want more. Their genre is their own, and this is a rare treat indeed.

“For Sale a New Life” shows off the band’s indie-pop side and “The Showmen” turns it up a notch showing a harder rock centre. All the tracks are interesting and original, and this really is one of the most memorable debuts of the year thus far. While Klum seem easy going and fun through most of the CD, this band has perfected this illusion which only shows how talented they really are. My favorite track has to be “Nonbeliever”, a fast track that shows the group’s talents undeniably.

The vocals are varied and catchy, with the overlapping vocals and playful interjections, which are charming and memorable while being poignant as well. “Our Monster’s End” and “Windmills” are also unforgettable tracks, showing the obvious ability of the band members. Do yourself a favor and get this CD, put the tunes on your iPod, and see for yourself.

Check out more on upcoming shows for KLUM at http://www.myspace.com/klum, www.sonicbids.com/klum

Tracks
bashing for the kids
Nonbeliever
Floats on Fire
The Showmen
O’Sails you’ve failed
FOR SALE: a new life!!
My baby’s just stardust
Give em something to die to
our Monster’s End
Windmills
It’s Curtains (old man)

A few weeks ago I spent an entertaining evening at Bread and Circus Theatre watching a show called GutBustaLooga . Great company and a drink in hand, we settled in for a night of rock and roll with a hilarious, raunchy twist. We would not be disappointed!

The show had a line up of three bands with High Heels LoFi kicking off the evening. And kick it off they did. Songs like ‘10 more minutes’ and ‘Big Dumb Rock Song’ not only leave the listeners with a huge grin on their face, these ladies are so charming that you couldn’t help but sing along! At one point they pulled someone up from the audience and had him play the cowbell, now that’s audience participation!

It is really hard to pinpoint a type of genre to put this band in. They are a comedic rock band, with sassy sex appeal, and clever writing. They do their twists on ACDC, love ballads and break up songs. The show is a whole package of entertainment including the much anticipated high kick from Mandy Wells!

The band is taking June and July off to work on new material and will be back on stages all over Toronto in August! It won’t just be the heat of August that will have you sizzling, I can guarantee if you make it out for a High Heels Lofi show, they will set the stage on fire.

Band Bios
Cynthia Gould
– Cynthia is a performance poet, short novelist, painter, graphic designer, and funkless.com party instigator. She’s been dating musicians since she was 16, so it finally dawned on her… if you can’t beat them, join them.

Most Rock & Roll Feature: best haircut was done on a street corner at 2am across the street from an insane asylum by the singer of an industrial band who borrowed the hunting knife from a singer of a metal band.

Least Rock & Roll Feature: was once an assistant librarian.

Mandy Wells – Mandy is a bass player for hire and a house on fire; she’s a lover, a fighter, a kicker, a biter, and an an earthquake waiting to happen… “…A bass is a tool, Marion, no better or no worse than any other tool: an axe; a shovel; or anything. A bass is as good or as bad as the badass playing it. Remember that.”

Most Rock & Roll Feature: I stick it to The Man on a (work) daily basis!

Least Rock & Roll Feature: Technically speaking, I am The Man… OW!… what the hell is that sticking me in the ass…?

James Roy Daley – We’ve… let’s say “borrowed” Horror Author James Roy Daley to sit in the drum seat when he’s not writing terrifying novels or drumming with Nanochrist.

The Rizdales originally hale from London, Ontario but are now based in Toronto. They  have reached the apotheosis of their infectious diet of ‘roots rock infused with country’ with their 4th release ‘Radio Country’. Usually it takes a group several albums before they ultimately distill the essence of their sound  and sometimes many bands do not even reach this goal ever. The Rizdales can have the satisfaction of attaining a kind of plateau from which they can view the country soundscape and take off from their and keep on top of all their influences from ‘Almost Blue’ Era Elvis Costello to Buck Owens to Patsy Cline.

Apparently an unusual  example of a seemingly happily married couple, Tara and Tom Dunphy are the heart and soul of this group being the chief songwriters and singers. Despite their  relatively benign marital bliss, the subject matter of ‘Radio Country’ entails harrowing stories of drug addiction and infidelity and personal loss thats seems to belie all this bliss.

This is especially keenly observed in songs like One Night Stand, Baby Isn’t Mine, You Haven’t Been Nice, I could tell you Lies and High Heeled Homewrecker.  Yet along with the accusations of betrayal and assorted marital highjinks are the more elemental expressions of compassion exhibited in songs like I Wouldn’t Do that to You,  You’re Not to Blame and This is My Story representing almost bookends to all the marital discord as a salve on the wounds (songs of sorrow) that went before.

The last track Hello to Goodbye (despite the title) is a nice coda  and resolution of all that went on before musically on this CD. The song is at once a bitter meditation filled hope for something better that ends the CD on an almost desperate up note that lingers despite all the Sturm und Drang that went before lyrically.

Expertly produced by Tara and Tom Dunphy themselves this CD has the achy breaky themes that always attract roots and country fans with the emotional tensions inherit in any couple highlighted and then put to credible use by the Dunphy’s to make an alluring listener friendly roots album that has potential crossover appeal into the pop world. Two Thumbs up!!

This band is dynamic, possessing that rare talent of being musically connected, lyrically sound and having a unique sound, a crashing yet listenable appeal that we all look for in a rock band. These are talented musicians, and there are no tricks involved. Formed in Spring 2006, MINK has already written more than 60 songs (30 of them in one intense three week stretch), recorded their debut album in just four weeks (with noted producer Sylvia Massy of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Tool fame), shot one of the most fun videos of recent times for its infectious song “Talk to Me” with director Christian Lamb (Madonna, Korn, Kelly Clarkson, Incubus), had another song “Pressure Pressure” featured nightly in ESPN’s 2006 Major League baseball playoffs coverage, and has established itself as one of the most exciting new live acts on the scene both in its own club shows and opening big-venue concerts by Angels & Airwaves among others.

The members come from a variety of backgrounds, ranging from the garage-rock, punk, solo and experimental backgrounds of Carlson, Fitzpatrick and Mozgawa to the formal jazz studies of Maybury. And though members cite influences and favorites ranging from classic punk to Prince to Bjork to Miles Davis, a chemical bond formed instantly that gave Mink their own enticing character. This band had the opportunity to open for rock legend KISS and also toured with Perry Farrell’s Satellite Party.

I enjoyed the entire CD, in particular “Get it Right”, their first single “Talk to Me” which has been spinning on over 50 Alternative and modern rock stations across the US and “Sweeter”.

This review comes after extensive touring in Canada, and I am sure to check them out next time they are in Toronto. Check out upcoming tour dates at http://www.minkmusic.com

Tracks

Get it Right
Madame Chung
Talk to Me
Dematerialize
Pressure Pressure
Jodi
Crazy World
Untouchable
Sweeter
New York Summer
Pills

This album is clearly part serious and part creating an act to appeal or not appeal to the local inhabitants that they may or may not take seriously as well, that inhabit the desert of Las Vegas, Nevada.

This is metal, the shrieking kind so I am not going to critique the lyrics because to be honest I could not really understand much of what was said or sung. Their song tracks are narcissistic at best and that is amusing, even when each song basically sounds the same as the last. They are adept musicians regardless, and hit it hard when necessary. There will definitely be an appeal to the metal crowd, this is heavy good stuff, with plenty of ammunition for head banging and mosh pits.

They draw their inspiration from such bands as the Melvins, Ween, Ministry, Faith no More and Clutch, Their song “please don’t feed the animals” was recently chosen to be featured in the upcoming independent film One Long Day.

I am sure there is a message in their music. I will have a Jack and Coke and get back to you.

Watch for their full length album titled “A Nasty Name for a Nasty thing”

Check out his myspace for the latest news www.myspace.com/thefatdukesoffuck

Tracks
You and Your Opinion
Pubis O Fire
Killin ya to death
Will there be poop
Kiss of Judas
Penetration Celebration
His dick is like God
Death Fuck

Band Members:
Patrick “Scary Only” Hart-Bass
Johnny “Kong” Rowe-Drums
Dave “Fultonstein’ Fulton-Guitar
Ryan Shaw -Vocals

There seems to be a lot of tribute bands around these days. Typically I am not normally a fan of them, especially when they are butchering some of my all time favorite bands. Though they try their damnedest, there aren’t a lot of great ones. Skulls are the exception to this rule. Skulls are a Misfits Tribute Band who makes fans of the Misfits proud.

When I first heard them belt out Misfits songs such as Hate Breeder or Skulls, I breathed a very, very long sigh of relief. Finally a band that was not only paying homage to one of the best Punk bands of all time, they were doing it using god given talent, style and pizzazz. I know pizzazz is an odd word to use to describe someone tributing The Misfits, but these guys have it.

Skulls have only been around since 2008, but they play like a band that has been playing together for decades. Skulls have played at venues such as The Bovine Sex Club, Annex Wreckroom and the Rivoli, but from my point of view should be playing bigger gigs with bigger audiences. I hope the future holds bigger and better things for this incredible band.

Bio
What is it about a band that started out over 30 years ago and is still beholden to their legions of fans? How can something that is based on a horror comic from the 1950s still capture the imagination of today’s culture? Why do people get energized, invigorated and go completely wild over songs that last a mere minute? Skulls is a Misfits tribute band from Toronto that was established in 2008 to bring people back to a time when horror punk was a new wave of music coming out in 1977, the year the Misfits were originally formed by Glen Danzig. Skulls take great pride and effort into their live shows, capturing the look, feel, sound and ambience of what it would have been like to see the early days of the Misfits. When seeing Skulls perform live you get the sense that they have a genuine love and feel for the music they pattern after, given the energy they exude onstage. All the band members are accomplished musicians and no detail is spared in their performance and stage show. Whether you are young enough to not have seen the original Misfits play or are one of the feinds that did see them in the late 70s, Skulls will not disappoint. They will have you singing along to every song, banging your head with fists in the air and screaming out for more.

Tracks
Out In Time
I Feel Better Now
Can You Keep A Secret ?
You Took My Ball Away
Teenage Party Girl
Marilyn
Corina
Good News
Weekend Warrior
Monday Morning

Let me confess my prejudices yet again that I LOVE power pop or pop rock or whatever spin you want to put on the title of this genre of rock– so I am easily seduced; whereas if it is Rap or Hip Hop or Country it takes a lot to make my heart to disengage it’s usual skeptical standoffish stance.

So when I was sent the new CD by The Ontario band, The Populars by my editor at Lipstik Indie, I was already in their camp respectively and waiting for the tunes to zing me into the stratosphere which I am pleased as punch to say their album succeeded in doing.

The Populars are Ontario based power rock trio: two of whose members drummer Ernie Basiliadis and guitarist Dave Klym originally hail from the oil slicked plains of Alberta sound; the last member to join being Toronto bassist, Ben Wilson.

The whole enterprise is well produced by Moe Berg formerly of Toronto’s own Pursuit of Happiness, one of my Fave  bands from the early Nineties. My only caveat is to say that unlike the liner notes observation that the guys were here to ‘create a new sound’ is that there is nary a single new note, melody, sound  being conjured on this CD by messers Berg and his progeny– all been done before and all been heard before. Really though, this is actually a very small criticism as that comment goes for most of the product of the entire music industry over the last 15 years– Grunge being the supposedly newest thing  way back when– actually even Grunge itself  was a gigantic step backward in sound and fury signifying nada but I digress…..

Suffice it to say that The Populars have Synthesized their influences (The Ramones, Dead Kennedys et al) to credible Pop effect and all the tracks are very listener friendly to a great degree. A Pill for Every One being their second full length CD.

The limitations of a power pop trio format are obvious especially if you take alive-to-the-floor attitude in recording tunes as they have done— no matter what pill you are offering the sound remains the same.

The title of the CD is excellent on its own terms and is admittedly served well in pop rock terms for melodically hummable tracks like, I Feel Better Now, You Took My Ball Away, Teen Age Party Girl and Good News.  It is also a nice coloration to hear keyboards straight out of the Split Enz/Elvis and The Attractions in The Populars songs like Marilyn and Corina. There is also an abundance of trenchant social comment in the lyrics of songs like Teen Age Party Girl, Weekend Warrior and Good News.

Forget about the bands’ hyperbole about new sounds, this CD is a very good on its own ground so two thumbs up from this reviewer. Check out this group when they are playing in Toronto next time too, as I will!!

Tracks
Drunk Stranger
Take it Easy
Bad to the Bone
Beat, Beat, Beat

Website:  www.francisishere.com

Now this has to be one of the absolute craziest bands I have heard in a while. With a circus/cabaret feel “Francis” may just be one of my new favorite bands. Songs like Beat, Beat, Beat showcases the lead singers fun and creative vibe.

Since the bands first release in 2006 Bad to the Bone you can see the awesome development that has occurred! The music has taken on a life of its own and they have almost created their own genre of music which is super exciting to see. Rock on!

Check out their website at www.francisishere.com (for more info, press pictures and more)

Bio
Francis originate from the darkest woods of Sweden. The band has been around since 2006 and released their first single “Bad to the Bone” on the Swedish label Gravitation in 2008. Francis sound is best described as Max Martin high on mushrooms making sweet love to Kurt Weil. In the next months Francis will also release an EP recorded this fall. The bands live performance has been described as an unleashed Tasmanian Devil singing heartbreaking gospel songs.

Here we have an all girl band, an all girl punk/rock band, and all girl punkin band, who not only look great but sound remarkable as well. And they are from Toronto. Nominated thrice for Toronto and Ontario Independent Music Awards, Fidget took the win for Best Punk at the OIMA in October 2008 where they punctuated the ceremonies with a smashing performance.

Teresa Hart, guitarist for the multi-honoured Toronto-based punk group Fidget is amazing, add to that their awesome drummer, keyboard, bass player, well, a sound is born, and all I can say is this band is talented, with musicians who are exceptional. Their sound has been crafted as their own, and finding uniqueness in this world of over saturated Indie/Rock and Punk band combinations is rare. Their range in all aspects is remarkable, and hard to match.

Now let’s talk about the composition, lyrically speaking Ms Legault warmly sings that she hates it when she is ‘dating a sociopath’ and ‘My friends think you’re an asshole’, coming from a voice so sweet you almost miss what she is saying, which is what makes this so intriguing. All writers know that we write what we know and experience, and being a woman I can relate to a lot of what is being said and told here, in the story that is their song.

They have recently signed a worldwide distribution deal thus it would appear that once again a Canadian act will come to gain approval in its own country AFTER doing so internationally.

“The honours we’ve enjoyed so far include being featured on Womenrockradio.com, Chickradio.it, featured (coming soon) on Humber College’s radio station, having our music considered for placement in the upcoming movie Never Submit, making it to the Ontario Final of Emergenza, the final of the Paragon TV Band Competition but of course we’re most honoured by far by the wonderful fans who keep us going with their cheers and support!!! We’re putting everything we’ve got into putting new tunes out for y’all and we’re movin’ on up!”  Says Nicole.

Brilliant band, I will be checking out their next show, and telling all my friends to stop fidgeting and check them out!!!
Check out more on upcoming shows for Fidget at http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendID=93121036

Tracks

Let’s go all the way
Sociopath
Blah Blue
Come Free
Ripple in the Water
Jump Ship and Swim
Molly
Nothin Goin on
Bruises
Bad nooz

The Black Atlantic features Geert van der Velde, former vocalist for melodic hardcore pioneers Shai Hulud. I was expecting something different for certain, given Shai Hulad’s usual guttural screams and thick memorable meltdowns. What emerged instead was a softer Indie sound. The songs are not exciting enough to call unique, but it is well done and generally speaking they flow nicely enough, and there is something about the sound that can be defined as different, so it was an attention-grabbing experience.

Geert’s lyrics weave to and fro between ordinary and quite good, and I only say this because lyrical sound of Geert from the past is still in my head, and going from heavy to soft does not often work. There is some good stuff here, not to be missed, and I was impressed that this hard core singer could actually hold his own in a ballad. Maybe love has softened his voice, but all in all the attempt made me want to see what comes next.

With only four songs, it was difficult to get really into this, but I feel like it’s a rock-solid start for something more to come. I anticipate phase two.

Check out more on upcoming shows for The Black Atlantic at http://www.myspace.com/theblackatlantic

Tracks
Moving Through a Crowd
To give up the Summit
A Letter in Sonics
The Good Forecast

Ok, the CD cover recycled cardboard. This environmentalist reviewer likes that for starters, and then the music started. This band is everything an Indie band should be. Their sound was unique yet reminiscing of so many other great Indie bands. From Las Angeles CA, the music on So Many Wizard’s Tree EP is delightful.

Simply put it is an inspiring wonderful collective of 8 songs that once you listen to, you will find yourself humming them over your morning espresso, downloading them onto your iPod and feeling the urge to add them to your friends list on MySpace.

The music inside features guitars, trumpets, accordions, organs, xylophones, to name a few, it was a spinning smorgasbord of sounds, but not overwhelming in the least. Everything works. And humor, plenty of that. The track “my friends are nice” they don’t bite much, had me chuckling, and thinking of some biting friends of my own. From the track “love is on the way” to “fly a kite” which was my favorite, each song is a story, an unfolding of life, unique and surprising.

Check out more on upcoming shows for So Many Wizards at http://www.myspace.com/somanywizards

Tracks
fly a kite
marion davies
gentle creatures
maneline nancy
im just like you
let’s be friends
love is on the way
my friends are nice

About Little O

Officially formed as ‘Little O’ in January 2008, Olivia and Rob had been jamming and writing together since shortly after they met in late 2004. When Olivia’s former duo, ‘Another You’, disbanded in mid 2007 the pair decided to develop their natural musical chemistry by playing live together and, on the 25th of October 2007, began playing as a duo performing their own co-written originals. Thus begins the story of Little O. Now in Toronto from New Zealand pursuing their music career, this charming due can be found performing in various small venues across Toronto.

I was lucky enough to come across this duo through a coworker and partner of Olivia right around the same time they finished their first CD. Lucky for me. This is their first EP of 4 songs, all of which are delightful and lovely to listen to. This duo harmonizes wonderfully, as though they had been doing it forever. They obviously have stories to tell, which is evident in each song. Track 2, “I want to kick, ya I want to scream, and I want to sing it to you” are strong lyrics indeed, delivered in a way that have an undertone of the importance of what is being said. That is the gift of acoustic, you are mesmerized by the guitar and the words dance softly around the cords.

I thoroughly enjoyed this first release and will be waiting to see what they do next.

Check out more on upcoming shows for Little o at www.myspace.com/littleoduo

Returning with their new album RepoRepoRepo, their upcoming release since You Are the Jaguar, this amazing band just keeps getting better.

Singer/bassist Rob Higgins and his gang are back at it hard, with an eclectic, punk, fast, sweet bit of rock, a get up and dance bit of magic.

Higgins, who is known for his work with the bands Change of Heart, By Divine Right, Tristan Psionic, Rocket Science, Doctor and for touring with Our Lady Peace as their bass player from time to time, is celebrating his first sophomore album. “I’ve been fortunate enough to have 6 records released in the 11 years Ive been writing,” says Higgins, “but I was never lucky enough to get the chance to create a follow-up.”

The first single “Candy Coated” is awesome, with the lyrics of “say my fucking name”, jumping out at you, in a great upbeat rocking out song. What can I say, I like profanities. Which apparently they do also, it is all good.

“Who Knows” is another great track which pretty much speaks for itself. It is all about getting older, wiser and maybe more out of the loop. Of course I found most of the tracks laced with metaphors and abstract symbolism, which is at once artsy and dark and appealing. “Unsee” was my personal favourite, they slow it down and sing from the heart, dark and lovely.

Dearly Beloved will continue to tour exploring all possibilities. Audiences will delight at the intense rock, endless notable songs and an enhanced Dearly Beloved that will have you up nodding, bobbing and shaking your booty.

www.dearlybeloved.ca
www.myspace.com/robhiggins

Tracks
Candy Coated / Acceptance Corporation/ Who Knows? / Dress It Up / The Butchers Dog / Fire Escape / Carnivale (Onze) / When the Show is The New Fast / Unsee / Bit My Lip

Ubyk was founded by Russian-born musician Roman Bleum and is augmented by singer/songwriter Samantha Tobey. Taking their name from a Philip K Dick story, this Los Angeles based duo show with ease their dynamic partnering on this amazing acoustic story. The group performs as a two-piece with Roman and singer/songwriter Samantha Tobey sharing both vocal and multi-instrumental duties. The sound is reminiscent of many whimsical duos from the 70’d, whose love of the music echo’s in each song. Bleum’s calming vocal delivery perfectly compliments the band’s basic, yet clever, musical rudiments.

‘Work’ is a wonderful piece, capturing the dullness of a 9 ‘til 5. That feeling we all know, “there must be more to life than this day after day sameness” feeling. Bleum’s languid prose is whipped into submission by a furious paced guitar, that makes me think of those days in the office when I would daydream about being elsewhere, or better yet sneaking a walkman into my ear drums to listen to something this perfect. But I digress!!

‘Merry Go Round’ and ‘Delicate Swarm’ are hippy laced, vibrant, and meaningful with the pulsating interaction between Topey and Bleum who perform as though they had been doing so for ever. This is more than the 70’s, this is refreshingly 2008, at its acoustic best.

While bringing out a sense of nostalgia in me, it also made me acutely aware I had not heard anything like this in some time. It is haunting at times, but never frightening.

Ubyk has toured the South/Northwest in the summer/fall of 06 in support of their first EP “work”.

The band has just completed recording of a new EP with producer Alex Newport which will be available for purchase and download in Jan!!!

Check out more on http://www.myspace.com/ubyk

reviewed by viki ackland

The CD cover is the Davenport sign here in Toronto, and being a Toronto girl this has a comforting appeal. Josh Hicks, in 1998, rented a house at the corner of Ossington and Davenport. The house became a place for musicians to hang out and Chris found himself there rehearsing often, which led to him moving in there and the house becoming home. A place to write music, share ideas and finally start recording this CD.

Chris Staig first gained notice in the Toronto music scene as the guitarist for Taxi Chain. His three year tenure with the bagpipe funksters was marked by incessant touring from Quebec to Texas. The 1996 release of BAGPIPE JUKEJOINT (Distribution Fusion III) gave many people their first taste of Staig’s gritty guitar playing.

Staig’s next major project was the pop-rock combo Rockboy. Their EP TURNTABLE scaled the charts of campus radio stations in the spring of ‘98. Chris was singled out especially for his “extremely well delivered imagery” (Annex Gleaner) and his “throat wrenching vocals” (Spill Magazine). Stymied by his Rockboy collaborators’ indifference to additional live work and mystified by their growing interest in well paying day jobs and stable personal relationships, Staig hoisted the solo sail in 1999.

Chris has an interesting sound, a sort of Neil Young mixed with a young Steve Forbert, and the lyrics to all the songs are remarkable and real. That is the appeal of this CD, it is as real as it gets, with the musician friends connecting on many levels here.

The first track “rock ‘n’ roll holiday” is a catchy story, and a great start to this CD.
Track four “all I need is you” is great and the title speaks for itself. My favorite track is “another year.” Track nine shows a softer side with ‘Keys.” All the tracks are original and enjoyable to listen to, Chris clearly having a gift for story telling.

I don’t think Chris needs to worry about being different; this CD is a breath of fresh air. For a list of upcoming shows check out his website http://www.chrisstaig.com/index.htm

Tracks

Rock ‘n’ Roll Holiday
Fell off the Wagon
Time won’t leave you
All I need is You
Celia
Graduation Day
I want to be different
Another Year
Keys
Catherine
Look me in the eye

reviewed by viki ackland

This band has it all, and this singer, song writer, is an amazing breath of fresh air. Peter Katz is a true troubadour with a great voice and lyrics which are brilliantly descriptive. He can rock or capture you instantly with his soft rockabilly sound, and it is all about one thing, the lyrics. His band is a great mix of talent that works well together, creating a jazz-folk-acoustic pop sound.

Peter Katz is the winner of the CBC Galaxie Rising Star Award and the Grand Prize Winner of Toronto’s IndieWeek. Recent activity for Peter Katz includes 2 successful national solo tours (100+ dates in 2006), invitations to play at such festivals as The Ottawa Folk Fest, Canadian Music Week, NXNE (for which he scored a 91 % on his Chart Attack report card), back to back sold-out shows at the Rivoli in Toronto, an invitation to perform for 2 weeks at the prestigious Karmina Palace in Manzanillo, Mexico as well as a special invitation by the National Arts Center to play in Vimy, France as part of the 90th anniversary re-dedication ceremony of the Vimy Monument.  Katz has also managed to land several strong support spots with such notable artists as Bedouin Soundclash, The Cat Empire, Matthew Barber, Tokyo Police Club, Danny Michel, Melissa McClelland, Tomi Swick and Emm Gryner.

In addition to his blossoming music career, Peter Katz has also been receiving considerable attention as a composer, writing music for numerous modern dance choreographers, including Naomi Lebel (OMO Dance Company) & Andrea Spaziani (DanceVein, IDAC). Katz was also recently commissioned to compose an original 30-minute score for renowned international choreographer Meagan O’Shea’s new work “When I See You Again” which premiered at the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto as part of the Indie Unlimited Festival.

The first track “ok” showcases his amazing ability to combine words with song and capture the listener. “I do” is a great song which is reminiscent of Martin Sexton. I like each track equally well, but forgiveness seemed to speak volumes to this reviewer. “pictures” and “the dawning” are both powerful and imaginative.

Check out his website for upcoming shows http://www.peterkatz.org/home.html
or his myspace http://www.peterkatz.org/home.html

Tracks

ok
state
posters
these are the days
I do
forgiveness
it’s only wood
pictures
The dawning
More Nights
June 3, 2007

www.AngelaReed.com

Humming lyrics as a child, or singing solo in a choir, her love of music is clear with this album. With such credits as Berklee College of Music in Boston to Cornish of the Arts in Seattle Washington, this gal can not only sing but her lyrics are poignant and appealing.

With her band consisting of Cody Rahn (War Pigeon/Cuchata) and Ken Jacobson (Seahorse, Furtive Movement) she stands as an accomplished singer and songwriter whose energy is clear. Undertone reveals honest lyrics and a confident voice for one so young.

The first track “moving on” is 51 seconds of one wondering if they had died and gone to heaven. Track three “burn” is a great ballad showcasing the vocals, with poignant lyrics. “More than stones” is a great story about showing oneself to another.” My favorite has to be “Sweet,” been there, done that!!

Her Album is for sale on CDbaby ; www.cdbaby.com/cd/angelareed. She has performed with seasoned artists like the Paul Hanover Band, Kelly Harland and Kenny White.

I have a feeling this is gonna be sweet. Find out more about what is up with Angela on her website http://www.AngelaReed.com and for more information email her at info@AngelaReed.com

Tracks

Moving On
Undertone
Burn
Skies over Carolinas
Depths of Me
Down the Road
More than stones
Better days
Sweet
Hero
Rollin up the sleeves
Too much to miss
April 20, 2007

Formed by brothers Michael and Mars Ivic in 2004 and hailing from Hamilton these Canadians make Canada proud. With their influences being the leaders of Rock’n’Roll such as the likes of the Beatles, Stones, Cash, Velvet Underground to the children of the musical revolution, the Ramones, Joy Division/New Order, Smiths, Stone Roses, Siouxsie and the Banshees…..the Morning Stars have delivered a record fertile with guitars, lyrical lyrics, and a little something that reminds you of a little something and has you singing long afterwards.

The first track “hearts for the living” is a no nonsense bit of rock and roll, you will immediately sense the timeless era of rock. “You can’t change the world” is a great ballad showcasing the vocals. “Waiting at your door” is a great story and some interesting instrumental playing around in the background.” My favorite has to be “don’t waste your time,” with great poetic lyrics such as “don’t shy, I just need ya”. The final track “fall” is a great acoustic finale complete with heart felt vocals asking the question “who do you think you are.”

Can you change the world? I say yes. Check them out on myspace at http://www.myspace.com/themorningstars or http://www.themorningstars.com/

Tracks

Hearts for the living
Wrong
You can’t change the world
Steal my love
Waiting at your door
All coming down
Don’t waste time
Breaking into your world
Fall

April 20, 2007

Formed in early 2005, Dearly Beloved includes Higgins (lead singer and bass), Niva Chow (vocalist), Damon Richardson (guitar), Alex O’reilly (drums) and John Pogue (guitar). Higgins and Richardson played together in Change of Heart and O’reilly played with Higgins in Doctor. The rest of the band has also worked with each other in various other projects before joining Dearly Beloved. This group of talented friends came together to help Higgins make a record and in the process became musical kin.

The band’s debut, You Are the Jaguar, was written, produced and recorded by Higgins at Orange Studios and in his home studio Phoebe Street.

The first track “the ride” takes you on a fast paced ride right off the bat with great back vocals, reminiscent of the punk rock era, heavy bass riffs, and hard rockin guitar licks. “Manifesto” is a great showing of the guitars and drum talent. “You are the jaguar” is asking the question “what’s up with you? and what can I do for you.” My favorite has to be “the butler routine,” where Rob Higgins shows a softer side. I am a sucker for girl back up vocals and Niva Chow brings a solid, nostalgic feel to each song. Each song is a story and documentation of life, combine that with the catchy vocals and musicians who clearly are at home playing together and you have a great album.
For more info on upcoming shows check out the bands myspace http://www.myspace.com/robhiggins  

Tracks
The Ride
Manifesto
You are the Jaguar
Rugged casual sport
The Butler Routine
Queen St. vs. Park Ave.
All points bulletin
Perils of snap decisions
Acquiesce
Noise submitted to order

March 28, 2007

Berlin Boot camp is the third album for Jen Militia, with their Militant soul punk one cannot help get caught up. Front man and lead singer Mike Dainjah has a sexy, verbose, in your face message, and with his power house rhythm section behind him he delivers with the intensity of punk rock, the eloquence of rap with a huge serving of soul tossed in. The way he goes from rapping it out to his soulful rock voice is effortless.

The Trinidad born poet revolted against his first love which was hip hop, to front blues rock band Stone Prophets. Dainjah recruited his best friend, virtuoso guitarist J.Double, powerhouse rhythm section Christion and Kyle Nova, Holla the Entertainer as well as notorious beat jacker Gord Pesst and went to work. The Militant Militia sound was born.

The first track“this is not a test” has a Beastie boys feel to it, moving smoothly between its multi genre messages. This talented singer/songwriter keeps the tracks flowing with the second as “theG7 anthem” which rocks it out. On ‘Citizen’ he reminisces about being in love with a ‘broken girl’. The fourth track “5GF” he fires both barrels, he has “Got 5 girlfriends and no control but the 2 I love best are rock and roll.”

Berlin Boot Camp and a national tour coming in January 2007 so check out more on upcoming shows for Jen Militia at http://www.myspace.com/jenmilitia. Jen Militia is here, and they are poetically perilous. And remember, this is not a test.

Tracks
This is not a test
The G7 Anthem
The Circle
5GF
Walk the Line
All my life
Citizen Jane
Diabolical Haters
Wardance
Fight! March! Die!
Fashizm

March 13, 2007

Canada’s Tenth Planet is a great big slice of alternative rock pie, which is both satisfying and decadent. One need only listen to hear the influences of Alice in Chains, Soundgarden with a moody broody quality of Radiohead. Tenth Planet stands strong, offering up intense vocals, whether biting or soft, and all spicily crafted.

Tenth Planet took root in 1998. Rock guitarist Brian Paul, a native of Toronto’s far west, had partaken of numerous musical projects and released five albums of his compositions under various monikers prior to meeting Martin Ouellette. Windsor-born and over-trained, Ouellette had sung with symphonies and bar bands and had worked in both acting and writing. Varied name and personnel changes were shortly to follow. In 2000, this duo became a triumvirate with the addition of Nic Vurro, another Toronto native, this time from the far east, and another veteran of the local rock scene as both a lead guitarist and as a bass player; he had also written and recorded soundtrack material for several films. Traditionally-trained drummer Glenn Neath landed shortly afterwards. Neath, who is also from eastern Toronto, played in a slew of bands throughout the mega-city before finally joining forces with Tenth Planet in 2002. The band, with Robert Strauss, produced Tenth Planet’s self-titled EP in 2000. The single “Slash of Blue,” also included as a bonus track on the group’s 2003 Retro Has No Future EP, was selected as the lead-off track for the Indieblast Vol. 4 compilation and received airplay across two oceans with absolutely no label support or professional management. In June of 2003, the song “We are the Cause of Everything” was a weekly winner of Umbrella Music’s “Next Level” contest. In May 2004 Tenth Planet was selected to be one of five finalists (recent finalists include the Trews, the Miniatures and Finger Eleven) for 97.7 HTZ FM’s Rocksearch 2004 for which they still have not received their appearance fee – so YOUNG BANDS BEWARE. By the end of 2004, the band had sold two thousand copies of the fully independent “Retro Has No Future” EP and had also found a new producer in the Tea Party’s Jeff Martin, who helped the band produce a rich, release-ready six-song industry demo. For bookings, contact Ralph James at the Agency Group (Toronto office).

The opening song “Shadow” is a roller coaster ride with biting guitar, inviting all into its 90’s mosh pit. Likewise fiery third track “Ariane” was well crafted with great guitar work and intensity. The ballad “Do You Remain?” gave me a weird nostalgic feeling the first couple seconds, BONO or Michael Hutchence came to mind, and was sufficiently sentimental. Equally strong as a ballad is “we are the cause of everything.”

On the whole this is a self-assured and faultless release from a very confident band, and I look forward to more. Catch them at the Horseshoe Tavern on March 30th. OR check out their future dates on their website http://www.tenth-planet.ca/

February 13, 2007

Ok, the CD cover is pink with a cool pink runners and lipstick. This girl reviewer likes that for starters, but is not sure what could be inside, and boy was she happy. Being a DIY girl I loved the hands on approach to their music.

“me” is the debut CD of a talented trio of Anglo-Irish-Swedish band based in the UK, where they have real tea and apparently great musicians. Catchy, punk rock, art-punk, pop at its best, every track is clever and simple, but not simplistic by any means. Like a small taste now and again of old Demics but with the big difference that you can understand and relate to the lyrics, which are fun and head bobbing in a sign along way.

From the first track “run,run,run,run,run” to the last track “she’s red” this CD is not stop fun. I like each track equally well, and some if not all I found myself singing along. Hell, I like “girls, skirts, boots, bikes” and “one day I’ll say It” each creating delightful imagery. I found myself moshing around my apartment with my cat to “yes, no, stay, go, go , do, don’t, will, won’t.”

Their debut North American release, ‘The World According to Buck’ EP (released October ’05), was playlisted on over 400+ college radio stations throughout the United States and Canada with heavy rotation and chart placements aplenty. In addition, the band was recently nominated as ‘Best International Artist’ at Toronto Independent Music Awards for the second year in a row. As well as attending the event, Buck Brothers’ Andy Duke also presented the award for ‘Best Alternative Artist’ at the ceremony. Buck Brothers have also been nominated in the same category at Inland Empire Music Awards, Southern California Music Awards and Orange County Music Awards. The band has also performed at NXNE (North By Northeast) – Canada’s Largest Music Festival in June 2006. NEMO Festival in Boston, USA recently asked the 3 Bucks to take part in their festivities in September 2006. And Canadian Music Week in Toronto has invited the three lads to strut their stuff at their festival in Toronto in March 2007. The band’s full length album, “Me”, is released February 2007 in the USA (Coach House Records), UK (Cargo Records/Fading Ways) and Canada (Scratch Records/Fading Ways) with other territories to follow.

Check out more on upcoming shows for Buck Brothers at http://www.buckbrothers.net/

run, run, run, run ,run and by this CD.

Tracks
run, run, run, run ,run
Gorgeously stupid
Which me to you like?
Mannish Girl
Liar
Together we fall
Girls, Skirts, Boots, Bikes
One day I’ll say it
yes, no, stay, go, go , do, don’t, will, won’t
Gatu’ Politik
Wake up call
She’s red

February 13, 2007

EVILS OF THE MODERN PLEASURE DANCE is the debut CD of our fellow Canadian talent, a singer/songwriter who quit his high finance job to pursue his dream of making music. Born in Brantford ON, Peeler got his start on the music scene as the guitarist for “Phineas Gage.” Realizing he had talent as singer and songwriter he began to writing songs for his album “Evils of the modern pleasure dance.” And good thing for us he did.

“Half Past High” asks the questions all of us ponder and times, and this catchy rock tune rose to #1 on the iacmusic.com Big 50 and in 2005 was voted rock song of the year. This talented singer/songwriter keeps the tracks flowing with such tracks as “Lonely Days” a graceful rock ballad. The eighth track “dirty maggie” is strong and powerful. This Canadian has a BIG voice, one you will not soon forget. My favorite song has to be aptly named after the CD “evils of the modern pleasure dance.” He easily moves into strong Ballads with the ease of a veteran, as in “the deal” one of the three hidden tracks.

Check out more on upcoming shows for Peeler at www.myspace.com/peelermusic or www.peeler.ca

I walked away feeling satisfied, and not dirty at all.

Tracks
The Evils of a Modern Pleasure Dance
Pretty little things
Lonely days
Half past high
Last Place
Phineas Gage
The man I need to be
Dirty Maggie
Waiting here
At war with myself
The greatest liars
Dipped in Grey
Perfect
The deal
The deal (lounge mix)

January 4, 2007

The Band Members
Steve Moore – Instrument: Vocals, Guitar, djembe
Bryan Sandau – Instrument: Drums
Scott Taylor – Instrument: Guitar
Jim Fernandes – Instrument: Bass

This politically charged band hails from Calgary. The band was formed in 2001 by Steve Moore, who wrote and recorded the debut album “Solus Verum.” With influences such as Tool, Sepultura, Dillinger Escape Plan, Angeldust-era Faith no More, Machine Head, Dead can Dance, Public Enemy, Refused, Ion Dissonance, the Anti-Doctrine it is not hard to see where this band gets there honest original sound from.

Forceful vocals, rocking bass, a definite message and a high energy sound describe this Canadian rock band Inner Surge. All the tracks I heard were very passionate and innovative, and you can see metal, rock, punk, hardcore and progressive influences in every track. One of my favorites was the track “censored” which is a great almost techno sound complete with an air raid sound effect, airplane and other simulations. Loved “backlash” and “driven” strong, unique and very powerful. This band has an addictive sound, leaving one wanting to hear more.

Inner Surge’s newest album is the critically acclaimed and inventive “Signals Screaming”, with 11 tracks focusing on human rights abuses and what the band sees as the worldwide “blind eye”. Released April 1 2006 through Cyclone Records, the album has been well received by both fans and music critics. “Signals Screaming” is being hailed as “one of the most essential metal albums of the year” from “one of Canada’s most promising and most modern-sounding metal bands out there today.” The lyrics cover themes such as the 1994 Rwandan genocide in “Wolves”, the massacre of peaceful protesters in Uzbekistan in 2005 in “Retribution Song”, the repression of the FDA in “No Profit in the Cure”, and what the band describes as “self serving corporate groups on the road to destroying themselves”.

Inner Surge’s “Matrika” can now be purchased digitally through HMV Digital at www.hmvdigital.com. “Signals Screaming” will be available there shortly.
Inner Surge is featured on CBC Radio at radio3.cbc.ca/bands/INNER-SURGE.
Inner Surge is also the featured band on the new Lost Socks Insanity podcast, who played “Wolves”, “The Outcome”, “Backlash” and “Silencer” on their New Year’s podcast

The bands name Inner Surge is something in everyone, that driven mechanism inside you to do something remarkable. I say this band is aptly named.

Comics

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My first introduction to Jean-Paul Mullet was during the Fringe Fest.  Patiently waiting in the line-up to see Mullet Makes A Play, I could feel his dead eyes on me.  Upon turning, there he was, the Zombie Clown.

Personable, rotting and undead, this black-nosed clown peaked my curiosity.  I needed to know more and in my quest, I found that not only is he a brilliant playwright, the deadling has his own comic strip.

Horrific and funny, this strip is everything you could hope for.  I spent a good part of an afternoon going through all the pages of the webcomic website.  My fav’s have to be the Polar Bear Tree  (click forward from here till the end of Ed’s dream), tossing in a little mad max , batman  (the colouring is sensationally delicious), and Miller and Mullet in Space!

The written words of Mullet are brilliantly brought to life by artist Kameron Gates. I’ve seen a hell of a lot of web-based strips and have to say this has become one of my favourites.  The quality of script and art are seamless. Mullet and Gates, along with other Toronto based comic artists Ramon Perez, Andy Belanger and Kalman Andrasofszky are one of the reasons I, as an adult, still have a love affair with comic books. Be it online or in paper form.

Miller & Mullet is posted weekly, cruise on by to get your brains eaten, ermm get your fix of the funniest duo in the comic strip world.

BIO
Jean-Paul Mullét was born in 1726, died in 1747, and washed up onshore 100 years later. Now he performs live and on TV, is a comic con regular, and the star of his own comic book and weekly webcomic. Credits include regular appearances on ‘Ed & Red’s Night Party’ as well as ‘Ed the Sock’s This Movie Sucks!’, which was recently nominated for the 2011 Canadian Comedy Award for Best TV Show. He is a regular performer in the Centre of Gravity’s ‘Lunacy Cabaret’ and the Toronto Festival of Clowns and has appeared in The Second City’s ‘Late Night Cabaret’ and at Comic-Con International. He also co-wrote, directed, and starred in ‘Miller & Mullet: Babysitters’, a feature-length disasterpiece now available on YouTube. This past summer, Mullet unveiled his first play—the tragicomedy ‘Mullet’s Make-a-Play’ premiered at the Toronto Fringe Festival to rave reviews.

Art is by Kameron Gates, a character animator whose resume includes King Kong, Hellboy, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Men in Black II, Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, and, most famously, the Miller & Mullet animated production logo which appears before every Miller & Mullet video.

“Whereas zombies just want your brains, Mullet wants your heart too.” – The Zombie Sartorialist

With the rising popularity of graphic novels, there are many made that need not be in comic book form. They read as if the images were an afterthought. One soul is literally born out of image. Formed onto the page, we awake with the narrator being held by their mother, then the other mother, and another, we are taken all over the world, through time.

The story drifts from one reality to the next, awakening to smells, to sounds, to circumstances. Sometimes we are looking through the eyes of a child, up at lamps, through chains, blossoms falling, a church window. Other times we are looking at the narrator grow in their many forms. The reader is easily led along, convinced of the child’s voice in each situation, the perceptions and the realities of life dictated by environment.

This is a story born of image, one that embraces the graphic in the novel. Although the narrator shifts through time and gender, it is easily accepted that this is all a story falling from the same lips. That this is the same soul born into different arms, and that the narrative is unbreakable.

This is an overwhelming piece of art. More like a legacy than a novel. There are moments when each form of the narrator comes together, and it feels like a triumph. There are phrases that repeat in each panel, giving new meanings, new tones and realities with every utterance. It is more symphony than story. Ray Fawkes has then hands of a conductor and the heart of a humanitarian and a beautiful novel to share. This is one for the hardcover bookshelf in your home.

You can find more Ray Hawkes at www.onipress.com

Okay, so strolling into the 30th issue and trying to catch up is not the way to appreciate such an involved series. Scrolling back and forth from the intro had me somewhat understanding all that is going on in this epic story. Finally, I had some navigation down and I was able to enjoy the spectacle.

With the war over, Marcus begins his negotiations with the “Sunners” a people long enslaved. He grants them their freedom with a catch, that they become his soldiers. Their leader, Golden Voice, refuses to hand over his people to what would be just another form of enslavement. A normally peaceful race, they realize that the only way to be free in such a war torn society, is to also fight. Like all good fantasy fiction, what follows is social metaphor.

There is a beautiful darkness in this series not only in story, but also in its visual style. Heavily contrasted in black and white, the effect of the cross hatched shading lends brutality to the scenes, a violence to shadow, a ravage to war weary faces. Christopher Mitten and Remington Viveto marry image wonderfully with Antony Johnston’s gripping narrative. Set in America, the language is current and almost in contradiction with the more tribal images.

The sentiment of this issue is clear and shown through the hung heads of those who do not wish for more bloodshed, the women, the intellectuals, and the traditional Sunners who hope to stay true to their historic natures. A turning point in peacetime, the story continues to evolve. “The Wasteland” series is a beautiful journey into a darkness that is driven by human greed, pride and aggression.

Sarah Oleksyk’s full-length graphic novel looks for a home no more. It begged to go from comic series format to a satisfying volume, and it deserves it. From the very beginning, the mood, humour and humanism in “Ivy” compel. Oni press feels the same way I do. “Ivy” is now in a collected volume and ready to be taken home with you.

Ivy is a character you’ve already met. She’s a budding artist, a tomboy, a hater of girly girls (especially the ones who may have more talent than her) and the girl you love to bitch with. Having said that, she is also the girl who may not be invited out because some things that make her daring and tough can also come off as cruel and petty.

Oleksyk’s panels tell stories using all layers. She creates an entire teenage world with tiny details, paying close attention to the background. There are a few wonderful little digs at high school. One panel being Ivy and her friend Marisa walking through the halls and a bunch of single word balloons surrounding them with gems like; “whatever”, “Dyke”, and “sucks”. Another is a poster hanging above the lockers declaring the upcoming “anarchy club” election. Hahahaha… anarchy club, brilliant!

The look of the comic is contemporary and uses simple clean lines. It is appealing in black, white and greys. Oleksyk’s website where the first chapter is offered (www.saraholeksyk.com) is as beautiful and modest. There is wonderful motion in these panels; the depictions of these characters are just as honest as the writing. A very satisfying first chapter. Oleskyk has introduced us to someone so real here, we walk through her halls, we crush with her, we fight with her and we teen ache with her.

In this harrowing episode we catch up with Drake Sinclair, Gord Cantrell, Becky Montcrief and that handsome gunslinger Kirby Hale in New Orleans as they continue to solve the conundrum of having waaaay too many guns. Okay, well, you can never have too many guns, but the Sixth Gun is one Drake is not going to want for much longer. In the land of voodoo, something as mystical as a cursed gun makes for some bad juju. Brian Hurtt brings a wonderful sense of foreboding with his lush Louisiana backdrops.

New Orleans is a character; a land that is like no other in the States, and Hurtt presents this beautifully. The cover is a wonderful split page, a glaring red smothering infestation of crocodiles, and a haunted servant below sets the mood for this creepy comic. Hurtt makes excellent use of shadow, most notably, a scene between Henri Fournier and Drake where the servant is in the foreground, the light just catching his hand reaching for his knife. Colourist Bill Crabtree reflects the mood by his blood reds and greens so deep you can almost smell the Bayou.

Cullen Bunn does an excellent job of imparting just enough info to keep the reader thirsty. He also teases the audience with the introduction of romantic tension between Kirby and Becky. That handsome Kirby makes a room full of over-buttoned dresses seem Louisiana steamy. Okay okay, I know it’s weird to have crushes on comic book characters, but I can’t go against … um… nature?

The Sixth Gun, Crossroads part II is an luscious addition to this gun slinging series. What better place for romance, curses, spirits and possessed crocs than New Orleans?

What first appealed to me about Sword of my Mouth is Jim Munroe’s world post rapture. What was once considered evil is now part of the norm. People perform hexes, practice magic, use psychic powers, it’s like the Christians were just holding us all back. Munroe’s story is concerned with character rather than trying to convince the reader of what events spurned on the new world. He does not give in to the need to spoon feed the reader. Although this is the second in a series, it can stand on it’s own due to Munroe’s talent.

The artwork is simple clean and confident lines. A few layering effects are used for perspective but there is no real sense of light or other techniques. An absence of panels is challenging, but showcases Shannon Gerard’s abilities. There are a few coloured pages, but they are reserved for chapter breaks. Gerard is adept with movement. From unexplained winds ruffling shaggy hair, to swayed desirous hips, there is little lost on the character’s body language. This becomes the show, the other narrative, as Ella navigates her relationships. Unfortunately, the lettering is a distracting scrawl in direct contrast with the comic’s careful style.

Sword of my Mouth is the follow up novel to Therefore Repent! Left as a single mother post rapture, Ella does her best to survive in Detroit after her partner André left to fight in Chicago. There are a few different stories happening here, but they all have the same themes, survival and food. The character Famine is particularly compelling. Gerard keeps him chilling in his posturing and stylish garb. Angels roam with M16s and soldiers with saber tooth tiger teeth also command the pages.

Munroe weaves speculative in a way that is engaging and natural. The story is believable, even when surrounding it with magic and mutants. Gerard compliments the humanness of the characters with great artistic touches, like Ella playing with her split ends in an awkward scene. It is moments like this that make Sword of my Mouth a tangible and compelling addition to Jim Munroe’s new series.

Love Buzz is a teenage love story gone wrong; then right; then wrong again, then… well, you know, wronger. The main characters, Norm and Maggie meet in high school. They make your typical mistakes, poor communication, drunken floundering, asinine assumptions and then they make up and do the same terrible things to each other again. Their attempts at sustaining a relationship continues past high school, past break up and past engagement.

The other element that makes this into a more complicated love story is the story of Norm and his sketchbook. He mixes themes going from Mike Hammer to Hergé in an attempt to understand and create art out of his troubled relationship. This becomes beautifully transparent in one sequence where Maggie is telling him of an infidelity and Norm is transposing the conversation into a sexy spy hit-woman series. Dave Tuney obviously loves to play with genre and does it well.

This other narration propels the reader into understanding how a comic book artist sees the world. In one aspect, Wallace the takes us through his relationship, showing the losses, the whirlwind dramatics of youth; on the other hand it is the birth of him as an artist fueling the narration, extrapolating experience to workshop his art.

Michelle Silva is the queen of bangs… hair that is. I wish she could come over and draw hair on me everyday. She makes the kids lanky, she makes them cool, and she makes them awkward, unsure, in love, in lust. There is no question what she wants you to feel for the characters in her languid style. You can tell she knows the players well and has a love for them. She pays just as much attention to the background as the foreground, creating settings just as demonstrative as the characters.

Wallace, Silva and Tuney tell a brilliant story together. This is an amazing effort by artists who are committed to the character, the story, and the image of teenage love.

Chris Schweizer’s latest addition to his much acclaimed Crogan’s series follows the exploits of Corporal Crogan during his last months of service in the French legion. Framing the historical tale is a father attempting to teach his sons about principles. The Foreign Legion was created by France to be a military presence in its outer occupied countries. Soldiers from all nationalities were allowed to join.

This story starts in the desert sands of North Africa in 1912. Sargeant Ludlow leads Crogan’s army, he is a stickler for the rules, often appearing too stringent for the Legionnaires. When Captain Roitelet takes over, the men are quickly entranced by this much decorated war hero who brings bravado and promises of grandeur to the tired men. Do the men find their honour in a hero, or with a stickler?

Done in black and white, the frames fill with very active and well-characterized drawings that remind me of Asterix comics. Their emotions are written all over their faces, as it were. These simple broad forms give a true French and historical feel to the comic. Schweizer’s Legionnaires may be dressed alike, but are unmistakably set apart in their illustrated natures.

The brothers who are getting the lesson from their father are as invested in the story as I am. It is filled with history, action, valour and valuable lessons about how to truly act honourably. I have never been much of a history buff, the stories of yesteryear would only really stick in my mind until the school exam. Like Chester Brown’s Louis Riel, Crogan’s March is a great tool for us more visual learners. A wonderful story.

Javier Grillo-Marxuach and Hans Beimler have joined forces writing this installment of The Middleman. If the ABC series had aired this final episode, Doomsday would have answered all the questions that rose during the single season run. Sharp and witty, The Middleman comic moves at turbo speed.

Wendy Watson’s life as a temp is long since past. Now in the ranks of Middleman’s agency as a covert operative, she’s pretty durned busy. She fights robots, Fatboys, aliens and even with her handsome boyfriend. Always at her side is The Middleman; an epic chinned, uber-intelligent blond mega man. Together they make a great team, endless snappy comments, relationship discussions, back-to-back fighting styles and sharp sexy suits.

The action never stops, you almost wonder if life as a temp might become appealing after a while. The first time I read the comic, I felt a little left in the dust. The details are heavy and sometimes excessive, but put forth in such an appealing manner; it becomes part of the fun to not understand what the hell they are talking about. Wendy herself even falls into this during a breakneck conversation about “chac-mol”, at the end she just throws up her hands and tries to play along.

Armando M. Zanker’s illustrations are full of energy. I was particularly entranced by a sequence involving a Combat Android, The Middleman and Wendy. Wendy is amazing in this, flying all over the room, teeth gritted, bullets going everywhere with “BUDDA BUDDA BUDDA, Ping, Pow Pow, P-Choom P-Choom” marking each deflection. Zanker is very aware of light, depth, angle and with the guidance of Les Mc Claine; how to blend each set of panels.

The Middleman series is very worth the read. If you do get lost, flip to the back, the glossary, or as Grillo-Maruach puts it; “Annotations and Pop Culture References,” is just as enjoyable as the comic itself.

This story comes in at 184 pages, so there’s no quick scan, and, frankly,
you’d be ripping yourself off if you did. This is one of those pot of coffee
books that you read at a leisurely pace, get hooked into the zany characters
and then follow the laugh trail that converts what start as cliché
characters into nifty parodies. It starts off in the Magical Kingdom of
Valdonia where Lord Balthazar, leader of the Centaurs is preparing to battle
the Dark Queen for the future of the country. The key to victory is the
mythical “Heart of Agnon”, an amulet of great power that can only be
controlled by someone purely good or totally evil. In comes Doug Peterson
who vows he will lead the Valdonians against the dark Queen and free
Valdonia. Doug is only eight years old and must return to his family in
Poconos Pennsylvania for the night, but he vows to come back and lead them
in the big battle. But he does not return, too afraid to take on that
pivotal role.

Twenty-five years go by. Doug, now separated from his wife, takes his young
son Oscar back to the cottage where the portal to the other world is hidden.
Oscar finds the amulet and before you can shout Kaboom! they’re both back in
Valdonia and the quest is on. I’m not going to tell you anything about the
plot because that’s not my role here. I will highlight the elements of story
that work so well in this book. Gailina the fairy and her reluctant fiancé
Hans the Cyclops, are truly hilarious. No other pair in the story stay in
character as avidly as these two do. The crazy battle between the Soothsayer
of the Mountain and the Oracle of the Mountain is beyond ridiculous. It must
be the thin air up there. Not to be missed are the antics of Doug’s old
friend and annoying, albeit faithful ally, Feldspar “the Disloyal” TumTum.
Laugh out loud when this dude is around. The Dark Queen is as warped as the
Wizard of Oz, faking her powers and ruling with a cruel, albeit pathetic
façade over her retinue of ugly retainers.

Stupidest line in the book is Doug bragging, “The Dark Queen’s a chick. I’m
good with chicks.” Funniest moment for me was the appearance of Oscar’s
report card. I didn’t like the art much when I started reading this book,
but by the end I was convinced it was perfect for the story. Buy it, read
it, then stash it in with the things to take on vacation. This is one of
those cool comics you leave at the cottage for someone else to find. The
spend the rest of the week in a state of half smile contemplating the cool
surprise this book is going to be to the next unsuspecting person to find
it.

Stumptown is the first part of what promises to be a delightful romp through the clinging brush and deep shadows that surround Portland Oregon. The darkness of the northwest forest is cut by the headlights of a solitary car. In the opening splash, no word balloons; just two grubby guys opening the trunk of a car under a towering bridge. A young woman talks flippantly from inside the trunk, trying to get them to say who they are as she tosses her activated cell phone to the ground. They haul her out and she backs into the river. Two shots ring out and she hits the water. The only witness, a Canada goose, flies off. The story then relies on a series of flashbacks to explain how she ended up in the river with two bullets in her.

It’s a clever mystery tale, well told, so I’m not going to tell you anymore about the plot. Except that Greg Rucka’s story is well thought out and twists the old noir/mystery story genre in several places at a speed that is as breathless as the pace of the protagonist’s comeback lines. We don’t discover her name until the last page, and for good reason. Plenty of opportunities come and go, but her name isn’t revealed, one of the subtleties of the plot that we don’t really notice until the surprising conclusion. How beautifully these subplots balance the blunt cruelties of the criminal story line. Well planned little nuances to character also surprise, like why everyone asks about her brother when they first meet her, but nobody ever asks how she is.

Artist Matthew Southworth is ideal for this story. The gritty dark inks and dishevelled lines of the protagonist and the other characters subvert the action and keep it on the ground, under the bridge and in the bar when it needs to be there. But then there are the beautiful lines of a woman lying on a couch having a cigarette, the close-up of the gangster’s lesbian daughter, the rapid fire photo sequence of the goose flying over the bridge to safety. One panel after another of important potential evidence slips buy and we wonder what she notices and what she doesn’t. This is a leisurely read, a slow savour of every panel and a perfect mix of art and dialogue as effective storytelling.

A special nod must go to the colourist, Lee Loughridge. The full page colour washes allocated to scene sequences and story arc changes are not just well timed, the colours themselves mirror the moods. Nice work.

This book is tight. Nothing superfluous. Nice editing James Lucas Jones. I especially like the title of the section, which isn’t revealed until the end either. It’s nicely long-winded and as silly as it should be at that point considering her dilemma with the police officers. I’m off to read it again. I know I missed something important. I can just feel it.

At first I thought that Guytron was actually tongue and cheek. I mean really? Guytron? I was reluctant to continue, but very happy that I did. At once the reader is caught up with the dregs of the genocide of the Gramosian race at the hands of the Hakillians. The Commander orders Lycon back to his ship, and the last of the Gramosians leaves reluctantly.

Back on Earth, we join Fry, a handsome young bench presser. He seems like the type of guy who could use a little more excitement, and maybe some tighter pants. On his way home, worlds collide.

Science fiction can be a very demanding medium. With all new worlds, languages, races and concepts, a writer can get bogged down with explanations. Raymond Leonard skillfully avoids this by only revealing details immediately pertinent. He wordlessly leads his reader’s sympathies through his panels of a race lost to war. There are some occasions that could use an editor, and the space battle scene looked like a candy display, but many more pages were so well done that it made the weaker ones feel like mishaps. I also wonder at the choice to have the lettering fit the bubble, it makes it feel rather confined at times.

Guytron lives up to it’s promise of being the “First Exciting Issue”, it is a solid start to Raymond Leonard’s series, the pages show both an understanding of the tradition of action comics, and the ambition to expand.

Bio
Raymond Leonard, born January 2, 1978, in Chicago, is an American comic book artist and writer, best known for his work on M-Studios comic’ Nyssa and his creator-owned comic  Guytron. 2002-2004, Epoch Publications hired Raymond as an intern. His first published art work was characters pin-up for Epoch Publications. Under the training of Michael McClain Whom once work for Epoch Publications, Raymond came over to M-Studios comic. In the next few years, Raymond completed various assignments for M-Studio’s Nyssa anthology series. Influenced by industry greats Rob Liefeld, Mr. Leonard has made a name for himself at comic shows. In 2007, Silver Tips Comics hired Raymond as a pin-up artist. Now day Mr. Leonerd learning about been a publisher under M-Studios Creator-owned Presents books.

What first struck me about “The Pistoleers”, unfortunately, was the poor reprinting quality. I would have to think that there was some sort of failed enlarging process. Although at first it had me resistant to the content, I was won over by the story. Dan Nokes tells the story of Elijah, a slave who betrays the man who kills his mother, and wins the respect of General Marcus. It is an atypical western in that the focus is on minorities. Usually in Westerns, there is no real development of African or Chinese characters, although much of the land endlessly fought over in these times was developed by slaves.

General Marcus takes Elijah into his (incredibly progressive) family and formally adopts him. A gentle teacher, his character remains a bit flat until his son returns home from West Point. Their resentful dynamic increases the strength in Nokes’ charming storytelling.

Although the art looks like a first draft, there are great bones here. The framing and angles are skilled, but the artist needs some more growth before he can match his narrative caliber. Perhaps, again, there was something lost in the reprinting process.

Westerns, for me, are a lot like Sci Fi, where I forget how much I like the format until I am immersed. In “The Pistoleers” I did get lost in the story, and truly enjoyed riding alongside. Yeeeha Dan Nokes, a great beginning to the serial.

How much do I like stories about passionate sexy ladies with a thirst for incredibly stupid reckless behavior, um… too much? I was overjoyed to be handed this book. Was I easily won over by my crack of books? I tried to remain objective, but soon I was having to resist plowing through it eager for her next misstep, the next brutal but endearing interpretation.

Like the beautiful cover art, Christy C. Road lays herself so bare that we are tearing though her very self, being forced past skin and ribcage, she is relentless in her honesty. The reader is pulled along into punk clubs, stuffy sex stained mattresses, an acid filled Miami night, spilled out onto New York streets, all teenage limbs and drugs and sex smashed into mosh pit pulp. Christy C. Road is a genuine voice, starting off sentences about what to eat and finishing with thoughts of anal penetration in the same charming tone.

The art, like the writing, is pure, death driven and full of dark energy. The internal monologue during a slippery blow job is one of these perfect moments in this exhilarating novel. Road’s juxtaposition between the graphic and the reflective moments is what truly drives this book. Did I stop reading once it was done? Hell no! I started right back again, to savour…

Bio:

Cristy C. Road is a 26-year-old Cuban-American illustrator, and writer. Blending social principles, sexual deviance, mental inadequacies, and social justice- she thrives to testify the beauty of the imperfect.


A Softer World has a nice Minimalist website. Literally no information about what it is except for this three paneled photo-comic with bad type face that makes no sense; but you can click on ‘about” to see a photo of the creators, Emily Horne (the photographer and comic designer ) and Joey Comeau (the proud linguist and writer). You can read their journals, so I did. It was surreal because I’m supposed to be reviewing the comics. It’s not like facebook here you’re expected to snoop around. They are a well travelled, nice couple who seem like very bright existentialists. An Archive of 394 comic strips, all 3 panel photos, some of them blurry, is easily accessible, but the newest ones are way down at the bottom. I hate scrolling. The typeface on the comics is an old typewriter Courier font. If it’s supposed to make it look amateur, it works. I randomly sampled 25 of the archived strips. I liked the ones about the big fluffy self-centred black cat and those that speak like haiku poetry trying to define or at least nail an emotional snapshot onto a real snapshot. I laughed out loud 4 times, chortled ten times, but the rest, nothing. By my book that’s pretty good. Check out their interesting Valentine merch. They live in Toronto, so it’s appropriate that A Softer World is getting a permanent spot on http://www.tor.com . I really dig the cartoon they have up about coming home to find your woman, well, sort of cheating. There’s no cheating the public from these two though. A Softer World is worth a nice pet. Here kitty kitty.


Tiny Ghosts is a 2 panel comic composed of photos. The objective, as posted by the author, is to tell an entire story in just 2 sentences. In most instances there is a relationship between the sentences and the photos used as the backdrops, but often they seem to be random. Sometimes there are central figures like Clara and Arnold (a male and a female doll with penis-shaped hats), The Tiny out-of-focus Ballerina (a travelling cake decoration who is lonely), Ted the Robot (a blue robot toy) or a misunderstood fellow called Larry the Dead Guy. The point of view expressed in most of the panels is droll and the perspective dripping with teenage male angst. The author tries to create interest through comments like “No one is really sure if Clara and Arnold are lovers or just brother and sister, which kinda creeps some people out.” Or in response to questions on the f.a.q. page about what the comic is, he answers, “I can only define it in terms of what it is not.” And then doesn’t say anything. The author is anonymous and wants to keep it that way. If he cared what I thought, I’d say something nice about tiny ghosts, but I don’t think he does, and I don’t want to encourage him.

With over a decade of comics in such a small book, the reader is catapulted through Ken Dahls growth as an artist, writer and person. What first impressed me in Dahl’s collection “Welcome to the Dahl House” is the way he conveys an underlying personality an absent minded kink in his characters hands. The Punk in the “How to get Arrested” who is complaining about “fucking cops not knowing shit” while scratching at the back of his hand in a somewhat feminine manner. The robust love letter writer in “the full ‘stick’” pulling at his collar … these are the tiny details that make his characters as visually honest as the words they speak.

His older comics have a few stand outs, like “Old Punx vs. Ronald Reagan” and “Old Punx vs. Alienation.” Both are short single page strips that are all action and little writing, but the character emulated in the defeated stances and bugged out eyes is irrepressible. Simple and smart, they show Dahl’s strength in his drawing. As opposed to his denser text heavy early work that becomes an over busy rant inciting headaches rather than political affinity. As Ken’s work matures and becomes less busy, Dahl’s strengths refine.

The character Gordon Smalls is exceptional. His self effacing narrative is so brutally honest one becomes sympathetic to his reckless actions. Wether he is explaining the dynamics around peeing in the shower, swinging into the night sky, or being arrested, Dahl has this reader mesmerized with the depth of his persona. In a scene outside his ex girlfriend’s window, Gordon Smalls is confronted and in his reaction, he slumps into someone who clearly has lived a novel with this person. This is one among many great moments in Dahl’s work.

It is Dahl’s honesty both in the text and the art that makes this book stay with me long past reluctantly turning the last page.

Bio

The collected 1997-2007 comics of Ken Dahl in this graphic novel anthology. Includes all of his minis, short stories, anthology works, and unpublished work including such titles as “Taken For a Ride,” “Gordon Smalls Goes to Jail,” “No!” and “Blind Fart.” 2006 Ignatz Winner!

Ken Dahl presents us with a impressive, diverse and bloody hilarious collection of comic strips from the last 10 years – some which have been ‘scattered to the four winds’, some self published books bough by just a few people and some work appearing in various anthologies.

reviewed by Carolina Smart

Being a huge fan of romantic comedies from the 1930’s and 40’s, I was instantly drawn into the chaotic plots and subplots of the graphic novel Shenanigans. This comedy of dating errors, chaos and slapstick comedy has grand similarities to a typical Jean Arthur movie. She falls for the guy, guys falls for her, another guy or in the case of Shenanigans, the same guy gets involved. Hijinks, insanity and hilarity ensue. The main cast of characters in this graphic novel style romantic comedy seem to be unlucky in love till they find each other. And once they do, the insanity begins, including advice giving best friends, the many costume changes of Holden, the obstacle course of love gone array and the wackiest finale of all times.

The back cover says it is an homage to Billy Wilder and you fully get that. Whether or not you have ever scene a Billy Wilders movie, which I highly recommend you do, on word of mouth alone you understand the comparison.

The writing of Ian Shaughnessy and the brilliant illustrations of Mike Holmes keep the flow of this graphic novel tight and easy to follow. With so much going on it would normally be easy to get lost in it all. These two cleverly keep the story going at a fantastic pace and keep you wondering right up till the end if there will be a happy ending. You of course will need to read Shenanigans to find out if there is.

Bio:
Ian Shaughnessy is the co-creator and co-writer of Strangetown with co-creator and artist Chynna Clugston, which is an ongoing series published by Oni Press. He is also currently writing Shenanigans, an original graphic novel published by Oni Press with artist Mike Holmes, along with other projects to be announced.

In the past, he has worked with Oni Press behind the scenes in the editorial department on such books as Queen & Country, Blue Monday, Love Fights, Hopeless Savages, Scott Pilgrim and Scooter Girl, among others.

He currently resides in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area of Texas.

Mike Holmes is a freelance illustrator, a puppeteer, and a comedian. He draws a weekly comic that appears in Halifax’s “The Coast”, called “True Story”. In August 2005 he submitted an art sample to Portland, Oregon-based publisher Oni Press as part of their annual talent search, and three days later was offered the chance to work on a graphic novel. “Shenanigans”, written by Texan Ian Shaughnessy, is Mike’s first graphic novel. He is currently working on three follow-ups, for three different publishers, which will be released within the fall and winter of 2008. Mike lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia.”

Pot smoking buddies, conspiracy theories, villains, a beautiful chick, a lab experiment gone wrong, and portals. Add water, shake and what do you get? A couple of stoners, a hilarious subplot, drama with a dash of twisted humour.

Matter Summer Special is a nice quick read for those needing a quick comic book fix. It is also very easy on the eyes with simplistic black and white structure, clean art and a purposeful uncomplicated artistic flow.

I also found this comic to have great plots and subplots that all interweave gracefully amongst each other, giving the reader enough story lines to keep them intrigued without confusing them. I have found in other comic book that too many subplots takes away from the main story but in Matter Summer Special it works to the creators benefit. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this smartly packaged comic book from beginning to end.

Matter Summer Special is published by Sparkplug comics and you can purchase this comic as well as more of Philip Barrett’s brilliant comics at http://www.blackshapes.com or www.sparkplugcomicbooks.com.

About the Creator/Illustrator:
Philip Barrett Irish comics creator currently residing in Canada.

Review – Apr. 1, 2007

Manga-licious

Right from the first panel, the evidence of a distinctly Japanese influence dominates Fus work. Drawing from a myriad of different styles ranging from the popular mainstream manga cutesy-ness to the raw imagery of well known queen of the cute weird little girls Junko Mizuno, Fu blends her own unique sense of storytelling with images culled from her hand.

At times raw and unfinished looking, Fu manages to demonstrate a higher level at which she tells her stories. Using simple images and few words, she conveys a message that seems to connect with her audience. While some might think that the simpleness of her art is directly related to her subject matter, one only has to look at the collaboration between her and two other talented artists on her recent Date With Death to realize that this is not true. Together with Kim Hoang and Kailey Prose, Fu explores the lighter side of dating Death. Unique in its execution, the set of three small hand made comics have another thing in common apart from the title: they are all laid out the same. Right from the first panel, the three small books all follow the same pattern. From showering to choosing an outfit, this trio of artists has ensured that each book while remaining true to its authors style follows the same template as the others in the series.

I am always amazed when I see work of this caliber coming out of nowhere. Looking at some of the art that gets into the pages of popular DC and Marvel comics sometimes makes me wonder where all the good artists have gone. Then I see work like Fus and remember that it is out there, you just have to look for it sometimes.

Review – Feb. 18, 2007

“stef lenk has been many places and does many things. Now she lives and draws in Toronto”

‘i found these people in magazines and on the internet’. This is the first line in the latest book project by Toronto artist stef lenk. These are words that one must use their imagination to decipher. What does this really mean? That’s up to you and is what makes this beautifully illustrated and hand bound book so intriguing.

If the title of the book doesn’t catch you the red, black and white cover immediately will jump out at you and make you curious to see what is on the inside. What you will find is 32 pages of haunting black and white images of several sleeping, unsuspecting, one night stands.

the One-Night Stands is a side project unrelated to her graphic novel tentatively titled the Details and as with stef’s other books, minimal words are used and she lets pictures tell the story. Beautifully drawn, this is a book that everyone should have in their collection.

about stef lenk:
stef lenk is a Toronto based illustrator whose work has been recently been featured in the window display of Pages Books and Magazines, and her illustrations have been published in the Toronto Star, Kiss Machine, Shameless magazine, Eye Weekly and Now Weekly. You can also find her at her at www.steflenk.com or creating brilliance with fellow girls missguided, shannon gerard and willow dawson.

links for stef lenk:
steflenk.com
girlsmissguided.com/

where you can see stef lenk in person:
23-24th June, 2007 New York City: MoCCA Art Festival (WD,SG,sl)

Review – Feb. 1, 2007

Spoiler alert. If you haven’t read 1-3, and you don’t want to ruin it for yourself, well, you’ve been warned 🙂

Violet Miranda is indeed a girl pirate. In issue one we find Violet and Elsa wondering what was beyond the island of Los Vagos. Forewarned by their Father’s that the ocean went on for eternity and was filled with ‘Pirates and Outlaws’ the girls still dreamed of life away from the isolated Island.

After a pirate attack on their island the leaves the girls Father’s dead, the girls and their Mothers’ must use their wits to stay alive. After retrieving the much desired map and booty, the pirates kidnap the women and return to their ship. Indeed Violet and Elsa are about to go on that much desired adventure.

In part two the girls find life on a pirate ship to be quite dull. A regular diet of fish soup and smelly pirates have filled them with boredom. Slowly earning the trust of Captain John the girls begin to learn the story of the feud between their Father’s and John’s Father and the true need of the map. A trust that also allows them to convince John to allow them to learn how to fight like men. And learn to fight they do.

After reading one and two I was wondering how the story would progress. Would it become a love story or a girl power story? It seems to be turning into the latter. Both of the heroines are left to their own defences and they defend themselves quite well.

In part three, Willow Dawson continues with the same black and white, two tone, simplistic style as she has in the previous two issues, keeping the art clear to understand and sharp. I find it is a type of art that requires little dialogue to keep the story rolling. I am curious to see where part 4 takes us. Will the girls become true pirates, putting John and his crew to shame, or realize a life on the sea is not for them?

Stay tuned to find out.

December 29, 2006

The Alteration is part two of and eight part graphic novel, by stef lenk. Like part one Carnival, it is a silent comic book, letting the beautiful and dark illustrations tell the story.

In this issue we find the heroine, last seen in Carnival, making her way into a dress makers shop. As with Carnival we are overcome and quickly become included in the dark emotions the girl is feeling. I am waiting with baited breath for part three, to see what path the heroine takes next.

www.steflenk.com

October 21st, 2006

Carnival is part one of a graphic novel written and illustrated by Toronto artist stef lenk. I had read Carnival twice before I could write this. The first time I sat in amazement as I flipped page to page, looking at the hauntingly beautiful illustrations. My second read through I realized it was the story of young girl’s journey through a nightmarish carnival with her stuff companion.

With no written captions the reader is left to use their imagination while following the main character through her journey. The reader may also find themselves empathizing with the main characters plight, sadness and obvious loneliness. They say a picture speaks a thousand words and if that is the case Carnival speaks a million.

Issue #2 The Alteration has also been recently been released.

www.steflenk.com

Zines

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Above/ground Press is a publisher. Unique in its kind. It was created by rob mclennan. For $40 Cdn, you can sign up for an annual subscription. Once subscribed you will receive chapbooks, asides and broadsheets from local Canadian writers and poets.  So what do you get for $40/year? Well it’s not exactly clear to me. If I had to guess you get a lovely piece of coloured paper

mailed to you from the selected authors!

Once again poetry takes it back to the basics. Love it! When was the last time you received a piece of snail mail that wasn’t a bill! You get a little culture in the mail…well sometimes. Though I do love the practice of giving each author a short write, giving you insight as to where they are coming from.

I have to say of the 5 excerpts I received; only 2 of them piqued my interest.  The one I liked the most was from Gwendolyn Guth a mother of 3 boys. She was former waitress, turned teacher.  The poem was titled “The dimensions of the enterprise are such.” Poetry is about interpretation and it may just be me that …didn’t get it! All in all I applaud the effort, the simplicity, and ability to give Canadian artists exposure to a larger audience.

To be on e-list for above/ground press, etc. www.abovegroundpress.blogspot.com .

In the past few years Zines have grown in popularity. Along the often twisted road they have also evolved from more of a cut and paste to an almost Chap Book quality. Because of this I rarely come across Zines of yore and when I do I find that there just isn’t that edginess I once admired and I am often disappointed with my findings. Without sounding nostalgic, I really miss that style of crazy, artistic photocopied expression. Don’t get me wrong, I do still come across hand bound Zines, but not at the level of quality that I was use to, that is until recently.

Shoebox is a ten page Zine, filled with fun facts about Maddy Lyons Coopers room and apartment. It’s bright pink cover is what originally grabbed my attention and once I opened up the Zine I found many wonderful illustrations and fun facts, such as her reason for putting up curtains right away. (you will have to purchase the Zine to find out)

If you just want something that is a quick, fun, easy read you won’t be disappointed with Shoebox. It is one of those Zines you leave out on your coffee table for everyone to enjoy. Because of it’s obvious cover art, it will be the first thing that is noticed and once you open it up, you will start off with a giggle, nod your head with a ‘ya, I’ve seen my room like that’ and finish off with a ‘huh, I didn’t know lavender oil was good for that.’

I’m a huge fan of vegan cooking zines, blogs and cookbooks. i came across Katies blog a few months ago via a website called theppk.com. Her blog alone is well worth the visit and imagine how excited I was when I realized that she produced zine cooking zines.

The tag line for issue one is ‘simple recipes for complicated vegans’. I knew I had had to get my hands on this zine as soon as I saw that. I wasn’t disappointed. The recipes are fabulous and the page titled ‘How not to set your kitchen on fire.’ After I stopped giggling, I read through the very poignant tips.

Issue number two is just as delicious and cheeky. I wish I had read the tips on ‘How to cook a holiday meal and not kill your family in the process.’ before the yule dinner, however the tips have now inspired a horror story. But seriously this zine is also chock full of fulfilling recipes, written in basic, easy to follow instructions with easy to find ingredients.

Don’t Eat Off the Sidewalk zines are perfect for the person who is new to veganism or a Vegan veteran. Her zine is so popular that issue #1 is now sold out, but you can still get your hands on issue two and the third will be out this spring.

Not only does the author’s poetry flow seemingly effortlessly, her words also fill those hard to reach spaces in the reader’s psyche. Writing something from the soul is difficult under the best circumstances but writing personal experiences as poetry is daunting indeed. Chronicling a personal journey full of questions and longing, her poetry re-enacts what is most important to us in the realm of love and religion. Her personal journey to find the answers to those deep questions many of us hold in our dark spaces, ‘Sea Change’ is full of fluidity and grace even when dealing with ugly material. Many people will eschew reading it simply because it isn’t as inviting as a novel, whose straightforward chapters are easy to read and understand. Her prose invites the reader to come into her home and sit down, tuck their feet under a blanket and sip a nice warm mug of tea as she breaks their emotions wide open and makes them weep. Each piece has something very definite to say and as a reader it is difficult to put the book down without feeling as if something has just happened within your own soul.

Beautifully illustrated with black line by Ian Sullivan Cant. Illustrations are reminiscent of Charles Addams. They have the dark edginess that helped to make Charles Addams famous. Though similar, Ian’s illustrations have their own uniqueness and I am hoping to see much more work from him.

Zine #1 is called Bela Lugosi is Speaking. It is Ian’s interpretation of the story of Dracula. The art is dark and creepy and perfectly used when telling the story. For those who have never read the original by Bram Stroker this is the condensed version and just the perfect amount of story, so that you know exactly what happened.

Zine #2 is called It’s Too Bad We Can’t Read Each Others Minds. This zine is a poem about three things, but is it really?

I found that the poem hit on a bunch of emotions that I am currently feeling and am sure many others are as well. This zine is only 16 pages long but, carries a huge punch! The words are clear and to the point and the message is very strong. To find out what these three or more things are you will need to buy the zine to find out.

Ian has a couple new zines out, one is called You Were Born Yesterday. You can purchase it via his blog.

Ian Sullivan Cant is a montreal based writer and illustrator of no real significance. he has never been published in any prestigious journals, won any awards, nor distinguished himself in any way at all. his entire artistic career can be seen in the low-quality photocopied publications of the unkindness of ravens press.

He is ostensibly a poet, but if you’ve ever read his words you know that’s a stretch. his writing is neither intellectually challenging, nor particularly beautiful. He has an unsophisticated mastery of the english language and literature, and explores a highly limited thematic range with the subtlety of an ape.

He attempts to distract readers from the shortcomings of his words by overpowering them with drawings. it is a cheap ploy, but he’s doing his best with what he has. anyone can see he lacks any formal artistic training, and although his drawings look like the stuff they are, they are unoriginal, and of mediocre composition.

He doesn’t really have anything to say, he just wants people to listen.

His readership is pretty well limited to friends and acquaintances, but they seem to really like what he does, and I don’t think they’re lying, so he may not suck as bad as all that, but merely fears it.

bio from http://theunkindnessofravenspress.blogspot.com

Upon opening dig12 to the table of contents I was very excited to see the names Sandra Alland, Jim Johnstone and Zoe Whittal, as these are some of my favourite Toronto writers. However the first thing that caught me attention with dig12 was it’s fun cover. Who couldn’t resist picking up a zine whose outside cover is a map of Bermuda.

dig12
is a nice mix of poetry, short stories and a hot interview with writer Robert Lopez. I have to admit the interview was definitely the highlight for me. Alexandra Leggat asks many poignant questions and Robert doesn’t disappoint with his answers.

Other highlights of this zine are the poems by Gary Barwin and Jason Heroux and the piece written by Zoe Whittal called ‘Taking Space’. There is also a clever piece called ‘Fuselage’ by Alexandra Leggat.

I have to give Kudo’s to Jennifer on her choices for the zine. Each flows well with the others. There isn’t a disappointing piece in the entire book. I am definitely looking forward to dig13.

About the Publisher
dig publishes primarily poetry, but also fiction and non-fiction prose, black and white visual art and photography, as well as interviews and book reviews, and anything in between. dig prefers work that is challenging, innovative, and impactful.

When submitting, please include a cover letter and a self-addressed stamped envelope, or proper International Reply Coupons if sending work from outside Canada. Also include a brief bio and appropriate bribes.
Send to:
wayward armadillo press
91 Avondale Ave.
Toronto ON
Canada M2N 2V1

Ordering dig
dig is available as a three-issue subscription for $15 CDN. Individual copies are $5 CDN each for all issues except #11, which is $6.
Payment in Canadian funds, to Jennifer LoveGrove (not dig.). Cheques, money orders, and concealed cash accepted. NEW! You can now use Paypal to pay for issues of dig.!
Write or email dig to order:
wayward armadillo press
91 Avondale Ave.
Toronto ON
Canada M2N 2V1


KitschyKoo recently launched issue 2 of their subcultural lifestyle magazine. As with issue one, it is filled with vivid art and photography, interviews and commentary. The colourful issue has a very kitschy rockabilly feel that will appeal to everyone.

Issue 2 is even edgier than the first issue, this time around, including stories about the Edmonton road demons, polyester, Gamboogies and the much anticipated kitschionary part 2.

My favourite piece is Chrome Sweet Home. Since I was a child I have fantasized about living in a motorhome. Reading Kait Kucy’s article has me itching to get on the road with one!

Being a recipe fanatic, I loved the section with all of the vegan friendly goodies. Apparently I no longer have to go to Hawaii for Coconut goodness! I can’t wait to have my own Tiki party.

If you are in Calgary you can find this zine at Plan B Kustom 1520 6th Street SW, Blame Betty on 17th Ave, Carbon Media 100 7th Ave SW and Lucky Lotus in Edmonton or you can order online from kitschykoomag@hotmail.com

Kitschykoo is looking for submissions. Please send all submissions to kitschykoomag@hotmail.com.

Three paragraphs in to General Slocum’s Gold there is already a film noir feel, to this story with the story already full force into the action and supberb storyline. Sackett is an extroadinary thief with, mutant like powers who is not only up against other desperate thiefs but unknown dark forces.

The story unfolds with our introduction to Sackett being strong armed into giving up a treasure map. Little did his captures know what they were up against, but we soon find out that the main character of the story may be on a leaky boat himself.

General Slocum’s Gold cleverly weaves back and forth between between flashback and present. Flashback doesn’t always work well but in the case of General Slocum’s it is a plot twister that makes the story sensational.

Nicolas Kauffmann is a brilliant story teller who is able to keep the reader on the edge of their seats while taking them through an exciting rollercoaster of a ride. You can purchase General Slocum’s Gold at www.burningeffigy.com and it is well worth the purchase. Go buy a copy now!

About the Author
Nicholas Kaufmann is the critically acclaimed author of numerous horror, suspense and erotica stories, many of which have been collected in Walk in Shadows (published by Prime Books/Wildside, now out of print). He has also served on the Board of Trustees for the Horror Writers Association.

Professionally immersed in books his whole life, he’s been the Publicity Manager for a small literary press, a pitchman for a widely respected PR firm specializing in TV and radio author appearances, a bookstore clerk, an independent bookstore owner (the late, lamented Tell-Tale Books), and a manager for Barnes & Noble. Nick lives in Brooklyn, NY.

bio quoted from www.nicholaskauffman.com

About the Press

One of the inaugural chapbooks in Burning Effigy Press’ new horror line, GENERAL SLOCUM’S GOLD tells the story of what happens when an extraordinary thief faces off against a legion of the dead who protect a fortune in gold on an island in New York City’s East River.

Review – Apr. 28, 2007

Stu is stuck in limbo and bored out of his skull with no one to talk to, no TV, radio or any other type of entertainment. Out the blue appears a scraggy old cat called ‘Old Tom’. With out question Stu puts all of his trust in Old Tom and allows him to lead him down an unknown path. A path that ends up being ‘Heaven’. Could Stu finding his way to heaven been a mistake? I’m not going to let you know, you have to pick up a copy of The Distance Travelled. A Little Slice of Heaven’, to find out.

Cleverly written by co-authors Brett Alexander Savory and Gord Zajac, this is a chap book everyone should read. I am a personal fan of other peoples points of view of what they think, heaven, hell and limbo is and this one is exceptional. Written with the same biting humour as ‘Lamb’, The Distance Travelled, takes you down a road to a very different type of adventure, though I wish someone would explain why there are so many rabbits in heaven.

If this is any indication of the quality of chap books, we will be seeing in the future from Burning Effigy Press, then I’m making sure I’m on their mailing list.

About the Authors

Brett Alexander Savory is the Bram Stoker Award-winning Editor-in-Chief of ChiZine: Treatments of Light and Shade in Words, is a Senior Editor at Scholastic Canada, has had nearly 50 short stories published, written two novels, and writes for Rue Morgue Magazine.

In 2006, Necro Publications released his horror-comedy novel The Distance Travelled. September 2007 will see the release of his dark literary novel In and Down through Brindle & Glass, as well as his first short story collection, No Further Messages, coming in August through Delirium Books. In the works are three more novels, and a dark comic book series with artist Homeros Gilani. When he’s not writing, reading, or editing, he plays drums for the hard rock band Diablo Red.

Savory is represented by The Carolyn Swayze Literary Agency. He lives in Toronto with his wife, writer/editor Sandra Kasturi.

as quoted from www.brettsavory.com

Gord Zajac has written over 50 cartoons for The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy and its sister show, Evil Con Carne. Gord is also a fiction editor for ChiZine. He recently co-wrote the novella, The Distance Travelled: A Little Slice of Heaven, with Brett Alexander Savory, published by Burning Effigy Press.

Gord was the head writer/producer of the sketch comedy show, This is Screaming Halibut. He’s currently chronicling the adventures of Major Karnage. When he’s not writing, you can find him animating cartoon shorts, yelling at various inanimate objects, and tending his garden.

as quoted from www.gordzajac.com

Trash talking, loaded with hilarious horoscopes, season finale spoilers and it’s free. The smart Canadian’s National Enquirer, expect hilarious!!!

We’ve reviewed the Special before and like the last time this free tabloid is a load of fun. This issues #1 scoops is the expose on the ‘Pillow fight League’ and ‘The Secret behind the Secret.’ I love their very witty narrative, when giving their views on the over media hyped DVD, book, multidimensional, money making franchise. I’m also thankful that I’m not the only one who is tired of seeing the Brad J. Lamb ads!

My absolute favourite article in this issue is FunnyGal’s Guide to Romance. Nicole Arbour is a gorgeous Comic. Yes I used both gorgeous and Comic in the same sentence. Why shouldn’t I? This article is hysterical. Nicole talks about some of the best places to meet men, in person, where you see the colour of their eyes. How refreshing! You can see/read more about Nicole at http://www.myspace.com/Nicole Arbour. In the meantime go get your free issue of The Special to read the entire article!

I also strongly suggest you check out The Special’s website. They always have new articles. http://thespecial.ca/

You can order back issues or subscribe to upcoming new issues at www.thespecial.ca. You can also pick it up free at several location around Toronto (see below). See their website for more information.

Good Catch 1556 Queen st. W
MITZI’S SISTER 1554 Queen St. W
THE FILM BUFF 73 Roncesvalles
MEZZEROWS 1549 Queen St. W
GLADSTONE HOTEL 1214 Queen St. W
THE DRAKE HOTEL 1150 Queen St. W
EMBASSY BAR 223 Augusta Ave.
RONNIES LOCAL 69 Nassau St
EINSTEIN PUB 229 College St.
CROOKED STAR 202 Ossington
PAGES BOOKS 256 QUEEN ST. W
CIRO’S BAR 1316 Bloor St. W
GOOD FOR HER 175 Harbord St.
Imperial Pub 54 Dundas St. E
REVUE VIDEO 207 Danforth Ave
DONE RIGHT INN 861 Queen St. w
Bad Dog Theatre 138 Danforth Ave
QUEEN VIDEO 680 College St.
SONIC BOOM 512 Bloor St. W.
54 East Shop 2068 Lawrence Ave
Shanghai Cowgirl 538 Queen St. W
Devil’s Advocate 655 Bay St

 

Life So Far Zine

Cynthia Gould it seems, is a genius. Life So Far is proof of this. Issue three of her zine is filled with stunning photography and art, witty journal entries, poetry and random thoughts. It’s a fun, quick read and a great way to keep your sanity during a subway ride to work in the morning.

I am madly in love with the poem buddha at the crosswalk and the photo that accompanies it. As with anything I’ve read of Cynthia’s you need to expected the unexpected and that is exactly what I got with this poem.

‘one heart stand’ is my other favourite from this zine. Cynthia talks about the one heart stands of her past using humour and emotion to catch our attention. And catch it she does.

Whether you enjoy clever writing or are an appreciator of beautiful art, I suggest you pick up this zine. After you have read it, put it on your coffee table with your other coffee table books. This zine deserves to be seen.

Cynthia Gould: Poet, painter, candlestick maker. She puts punch into poetry and slapstick into satire. Her paintings are mystical, magical and modern. She performs spoken word with a spiked sense of wit and humour . . . . and yet can be as gentle and graceful as eider down quilt. quoted from cynthiagould.com/bio below is from cynthiagould.com

about cynthia
writing a bio is always a strange task. until i write a more complete blurb for myself, here are a few different versions:

ART
Cynthia Gould is a Toronto painter, performance poet, & coffee junkie, who was voted Best Local Visual Artist in the 2004 NOW Readers Poll, and Best Visual Artist in the 2004 and 2005 Eye Weekly Readers’ Choice Awards. In the four years she has been concentrating on painting, she has sold over 60 pieces, and had over 8 solo shows at various funky venues. Her first book is available at somewordsspoken.com, her paintings are on display at cynthiagould.com, she plans wild parties at funkless.com, and her mailing list & art diary is at http://cynthiagould.coffeehouse.ca Apparently Cynthia lives online.

WRITING
Cynthia Gould is a performance poet, artist and instigator. Her co-poeted book “Some Words Spoken” and her chapbook/zine “Life So Far” are available online, or from her knapsack. Cynthia lives in artistic bliss at cynthiagould.com. She’s been on two spoken word tours with The Perpetual Motion Roadshow, appeared on TV, radio, was shortlisted in the 2004 Three Day Novel Contest (she’s a nine-time survivor!), and had one of those short funny bits published in the back of Reader’s Digest. She throws wild parties such as Bridesmaidmania and The Tinfoil Hat Contest – check out funkless.com for info & invitations.

Sassy, hand bound and clever. The first three words that come into my head for this zine. The first three things you see when you pull back the cover of Etiquette is a big lipstick circle where someone has kissed the page, the words ‘this book belongs to’ and the fact that the pages of the book are made up of Kleenex.

Most women I know use Kleenex to blot off excess lipstick after application, I myself have done the same and many times and until now didn’t realized how much of a contrast their was. Seeing Lipstick kisses on tissue isn’t an unusual site either, I’ve seen many women kiss a piece of paper, napkin or tissue and write their phone number on it when trying to get someone’s attention. In the case of Etiquette, they aren’t words of flirting, rather words of a broken heart.

Lipstick kisses, type written and angry words on tissue, make this a great zine to pass on to a friend who just had their heart stomped on. In today’s world I am sure everyone knows someone who is as angry as the creator of this zine. Go out and buy several copies of it and keep them in your bag. You just never know when you will need to hand them to an angry friend.

If you enjoy freakish, odd things, then the Delete, Flesh and Bone zine is for you. With a macabre feel to the writing, illustrations and photography, you feel like you have secretly entered one of P. T. Barnum’s tents.

If this was a P. T. Barnum event the first act on the program would definitely be Adam Bradejs Animatronic Flesh Shoe. Even in black and white the flesh shoe had an eerie presence, clearly getting it’s point across. I will bet this guy always won first place at the science fair.

Next on the roster would Sandro Castelli’s very dark and sinister sketches aptly titled Bone Doll 1 and Bone Doll 2. Seeing these sketches reminded me of the outstanding art of stef lenk.

Not to be left out of the show, and following steadily along would also be art by Andy 44, photo manipulation by Simon Farrington and articles by Tammy Kenward.

I finished reading Flesh and Bone feeling fulfilled and anticipating Issue 4.

Review – Feb. 18, 2007

Kitschykoo is a Calgary based subcultural lifestyle zine featuring all that is kooky and kitschy in Calgary and beyond and they have made their grand debut and what a debut it is.

When one thinks of Calgary, you automatically think farmland, Canadian Rockies, The Olympics and The Calgary Stampede. Many of us forget that this is a large, beautiful city filled with creative, quirky and extremely talented artists. We also forget that it has it’s own subculture of indie artists and performers. Kitschykoo zine is about to help you remember.

Right away the cover catches your attention. It has a photo of Master Sarah Moaneis in a sexy red corset and fishnets and has a fun Burlesque feel to it. Once you open up and start to flip through the pages, more fun ensues.

The premiere issue includes articles written by Andrew Payne, Kirsten Wiebe, Kait Kucy, Munkospeni, Ryan Sadler, and Sean Stewart. I have to say my favourites are Boom Swagger Boom, I mean who doesn’t love Burlesque, the well written A History of Tattoo, and the fun and quirky column Kitschionary.

I look forward to the next issue, I am hoping they delve even further into the subculture of Calgary and fill the zine with even more articles and photographs as. I found myself on the last page I yearning for more. But for a debut zine they’ve done a fine job of helping us learn a little bit more about what really goes on in the Calgary’s subculture.

If you are in Calgary you can find this zine at Plan B Kustom 1520 6th Street SW and Looks Could Kill Art Boutique #11 100 7th Ave Sw or you can order online from kitschykoomag@hotmail.com

Kitschykoo is looking for submissions for their SUMMER 2007 issue. The deadline is April 15, 2007!!! Please send all submissions to kitschykoomag@hotmail.com.

Review – Feb. 18, 2007

Issue Zine is all about Toronto. Bad Toronto, Zanta Toronto, Weird off beat Toronto. The real Toronto, not the Toronto that people living in Rosedale wish it was.

You ever walk into a wall and promise yourself that the next time you will be more careful, but, you walk into that very same wall again. You have, well then you are going to love this zine. It is all about the Toronto where helmetless fallen cyclists are picked up by a stranger and then stranger than fiction the stranger tries to pick them up or how about the Toronto where you move to a ‘safer’ neighbourhood only to get mugged.

Good or bad Issue zine shows us all sides of Toronto through writing and photography. Inside this zine you will find clever stories and realist photography that gets to the nitty gritty of the side of this city that we need to get to know better.

James Lindsay runs this Toronto based, based on Toronto zine (soon to be renamed Exploding Face) and he has a talent for pulling together the right type of writers and photographers to make this zine fascinating, fun and filled with folly. Issue zine arts/culture/comedy zine who are always looking for bright ideas. If you have one that fits the bill emailing them at issuesubmission@yahoo.com.

I’m looking forward to the next issue. Who knows, maybe I will submit one of my tales of woe, I am after all the girl who buys the bookshelf that is missing the screw that holds it up.

A bit about James Lindsay

ISSUE no. 3 (the Toronto ISSUE) retails for $4 and can be purchased at: Book City Annex (501 Bloor St. W.), Book City Danforth (348 Danforth Ave), Silver Snail Comics Ltd. (367 Queen St. W.) and Pages Books and Magazines (256 Queen St. W.). All stores are located in Toronto.

James Lindsay is a graduate of The Writers Studio program at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. His writing has appeared in Quills, Prairie Fire and the Emerge anthology. Stayed tuned for Exploding Face (the Anti-Magazine) from the people who brought you ISSUE 1-3.
www.exploding-face.com
www.myspace.com/issuezine

Another hip Canadian Vegan Cooking Goddess is Jae Steele, jae is a registered holistic nutritionist who has recently moved to Montreal to start up a practice and study shiatsu. Her interest in food began six years ago when she was living on an organic farm, fell in love with a vegan and became one herself. With five cookzines and a herbal healing zine under belt, she’s putting it all together to create a cookbook jam-packed with simple and delicious, whole-foods recipes. Her specialty is vegan baked goods that don’t “taste vegan” and she holds a position as a baker at a popular vegan restaurant. jae has written for numerous publications and currently pens Pulp Kitchen, a bi-weekly column for Concordia University’s student newspaper. She regularly posts veg recipes and holistic health tutorials on her weblog at http://domesticaffair.ca

Featured

Standard

FIELDS was recorded over the course of a weekend, and features 6 excellent Canadian musicians from various genres playing their hearts out. The Mod Villains are Myke Mazzei’s folk-rock band, formed in the Winter of 2007. Each member, from the saxophonist to the percussionist to the songwriter, brings years of gigging and musical sweat, passion, and love to the group.

 We play folk music, we throw in some distortion, and we finish with a mighty crescendo.

 Myke And The Mod Villains are playing from the heart and soul of Canadian perspective, be it a dissolving trust in our national government (“Fade”) to wide-open sonic fields (“On Loneliness”).

This folk rock band has a troubadour style that is reminiscing of The Tragically Hip. Every song is a story. The first track “fields” is a folk jazzy number that is a great start to this five song EP, each song is unique in its own with a rock tempo, sax dressing and intriguing vocals.

The second track “been thinking” is a sweet little love song, the title says it all.  The third track “I go” gave me Manteca flashbacks, something in the opening, I have to say this was my favorite track. Short and as I said, sweet. “Hands of time” and “nobody’s saviour” are a great finish, nobody’s saviour with great harmonics and lyrically superb, with more of a rock edge.

It was hard to find any additional information on this group, as far as the where, what’s and whys of things, but I highly recommend checking them out if they are playing near you. Don’t sit in the dark, rambling again, get out there!!!

Check out more on upcoming shows at http://modvillains.com

Tracks
Fields
Been thinkin’
I go
Hands of time
Nobody’s Saviour

Reviewed by Carolina Smart

Myna Wallin is the four S’s. Sexy, Sassy, Sensual, and Smart. A super vixen of all super vixen’s with the literary and female spirit to back this statement up. Not only does she ooze the four S’s, so does her writing.

I was first introduced to Myna when I volunteered for the Toronto Small Press Fair, five years ago. Soon after I was delving into her books, starting with A Thousand Profane Pieces and haven’t stopped since. She is a mentor and a true inspiration to women and writers alike.

This brings me to Myna’s latest novel, Confessions of a Reluctant Cougar. As a single woman who has had to machete her way through the dating scene, I fully embrace Olivia’s frustration during her journey. Confessions of a Reluctant Cougar is filled with short snippets of Olivia’s dating life, and insights that any woman can grasp, acknowledge and firmly say, ‘Yup, been there, done that.’ Whether it be online dating, blind dates, family set-ups or randomly meeting someone under the most unusual of circumstances, Olivia, though fictional is as true to life as it gets.

When she isn’t writing, editing, teaching or inspiring Cougars of all ages, you can occasionally catch her hosting book launches, poetry readings or touring her own book.

Cougar or not, you need to read not only Confessions of a Reluctant Cougar, but pick up all of Myna’s other works, check out her website and go hear her read!

Myna’s official bio:

Myna Wallin is a poet, a prose writer, an editor and a part-time cougar. Her first full-length collection of poetry, A Thousand Profane Pieces (Tightrope Books, 2006) was launched after publishing three chapbooks with her  imprint, believe your own press, a press she co-founded with David Clink. Last spring was her foray into novel
publishing, with the release of Confessions of a Reluctant Cougar (Tightrope Books, 2010), With Tightrope Books she’s also edited two poetry collections, one by Sandra Kasturi (The Animal Bridegroom) and one by Phoebe Tsang (Contents of a Mermaid’s Purse) as well as co-editing two anthologies, including I. V. Lounge Nights with Alex Boyd.

Myna is teaching erotic writing at U of T’s School of Continuing Studies in the fall. She received Honourable Mention in Descant’s 2010 Winston Collins Prize for Best Canadian Poem, and she was shortlisted for the same prize in 2011. She recently collaborated with filmmaker Henry Mak on a video-poem of “The Self as Both Object and  Subject, dusting off her acting skills. Myna used to be an actress and discovered recently,  through Google, that she is still listed on the IMBD* for her role in the Canadian feature film, Dear John.

*International Movie Data Base

So, a little disclosure is probably in order here. I found The Local Skank on one of those tangential  Intarwebs click safaris. I was looking for New Orleans bands to check out, and there they were in all their skanky glory. It was pretty much love at first YouTube listen.

The Local Skank have been skanking up stages since 2008, bringing a really different kind of brass sound to the New Orleans music scene. The Skanks’ witty original tunes cover topics like stalking, drinking, boyfriend-stealing sluts, quitting your crappy job, eating, and a dude named Pants; pretty much all topics I find appealing. Except for the pants. I’m not fond of pants.

When I was in New Orleans earlier this year, I had the chance to see them twice (I’m their out-of-town stalker fan!) and they are even more fun on stage than they are recorded. With snazzy outfits and snappy attitude to go with their skalicious musical stylings, they had the crowd at One-Eyed Jack’s up and rocking their sweaty socks off. It was an epic fun night; one of best I had on that trip, and I have the t-shirt (and the scars) to prove it.

The Skanks just wrapped up a tour of the east coast and answered a bunch of questions I sent them as they drove back to New Orleans–as car games go, it’s more fun than punchbuggy–and I gotta say, they give great interview:

You seem to have really different musical backgrounds. Tell me more about that.  

We sure do! In all respects, this band shouldn’t work, but with all of the different influences we have, it actually gives us something that is completely unique to any genre we know of! Hannah comes from a bluegrass, world and classical background. Ashley, as well, is classically trained and listens to indie and retro 80s pop. Dani is the ska, dub and stoner rock girl, Melissa listens to Punk and Rockabilly and Darryl likes an eclectic mix of everything and is crazy about soul music.

How on earth did you all meet and decide to start a band? Who was the first one to say “you know what we should do? We should totally start a band!”?

Actually we met on Craigslist! Dani put out an ad looking for female horn players and Ashley and Hannah responded. Melissa came late to the party when she saw an ad at Guitar Center and Darryl was added after the band was completely formed. When the original, female drummer didn’t work out, we were looking for a replacement. His band had played with us on several occasions, and he felt as though he could give us the spark we were lacking.

And who gets credit for the band name?

Dani came up with the band name as well! She stole it from a guy in Cleveland that said that if he had a ska band he would call it “The Local Skank” but he would never have one, so he gifted it to Dani!

Your Local Skank calendar is a really interesting promo idea. How did that happen? And how was the support for it–did people like it?

Melissa joked around on Facebook that we were performers, musicians, actors and singers, now all we need to do is be models too! A local photographer by the name of Sharky from Black Sails Photography said “Let’s do it!” We decided to do a tongue in cheek pin-up calendar, since all of us are kinda girl-next-door types and it was a complete promotional success! The demand for it was so high that we are busy trying to release the next 18 month calendar!!!!

You’re on a crazy east coast tour this summer–how many dates in how many days are you playing? How’s it going so far?

ELEVEN DATES IN TWELVE DAYS, plus one on air radio show! Louisville was the only date we missed because TORNADOS hit the interstate 20 miles ahead of us spreading debris all over the road. They shut the interstate down and it took us hours to reach the club. We ended up drinking with the staff before heading back to the hotel. It has been wild though. We played to a awesome ska crowd in Grand Rapids including some of the members of Mustard Plug that came out to support us! We drank mid-day moonshine with Dani’s grandparents in Cleveland, sweated our asses off in a packed house of revelers in Ithaca, slept in the van halfway to play an in-store for the legendary Randy at The Record Collector in New Jersey, stayed overnight in NYC for Darryl’s birthday via train, followed up by shows at The Saint, The Fire, The All Asia in Boston, we played at the coolest stage / venue ever at Roxy and Duke’s Roadhouse in Dunellen, NJ and The Somewhere Else Tavern in Greensboro. THEN HEAVY REBEL WEEKENDER. That is a freaking story all on its own. We are not a band to take promotion lightly, so we donned Local Skank Shirts and went MUD WRESTING before the gig. (M~ Hey look–there’s video of the filthy skanks! http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=1663029315263&comments) It is a seriously insane three day musical event in Winston-Salem North Carolina so we were a bit nervous about how a ska band would be received, but we rocked it with all we had and were rewarded with a room of skanking  rockabilly guys! We weren’t done yet though! The next day we partied to some of the best music the world has to offer, drank whiskey out of a sideshow performer’s nostril tube and Dani and Ashley got pulled up on stage with a band and shook their groove thangs to some metal Elvis!

What’s the most important thing to bring on tour with you?

Darryl! Darryl keeps us centered. Dani also says not to forget the glitter, cupcakes, unicorns…oh, and instruments too.

Any particularly insane gigs yet?

In Boston, there was a woman outside who began to cry while watching our set through the window, so Dani ran outside and serenaded her with her wireless system.  In Dunellen, a guy brought his marionette, Elwood, on stage and Hannah skanked with him. I think there is footage out there of it somewhere. Ithaca was so packed that a few of us almost passed out from the heat in the room! Heavy Rebel was the crown jewel of insane, with the mudwrestling, nose whiskey, and go go dancing…when they crowd likes a band they throw beer cans at you! Darryl got all the beer thrown at him, though….and we can’t wait to do it again!!!

What’s the worst thing you’ve eaten on tour?

Skyline Chili in Cleveland. Hands down. Chili over spaghetti that is sweetened with cinnamon and cocoa. Gross. We all greedily ate Scotch eggs Benedict and thought it was awesome with the exception of Dani…. she didn’t approve.

What’s the most unexpected fun thing that’s happened?

Everything. We went out just expecting to hopefully have some rad shows and this tour has totally surpassed our expectations! Everything was filled with a crazy wonder and we attribute it to the wonderful characters we met on tour. What beautiful, crazy, people are part of the tapestry of this place! We want to get to Canada next! (M~ Yes! Come to Canada! I happen to know this band that would be an awesome opening act for you…)

What’s the first thing you’re going to do when you get home again?

Sleep for a week! Darryl says he wants to flush his own toilet and turn on his own faucet. He is sick and tired of automated truck stop fixtures guessing when you are done.

Your drummer is cute as a bug, and a snazzy dresser. It’s hard to get the drummer from my band to wear a shirt with less than three grease stains on it. Any tips for getting him gussied up some?

Darryl says blow jobs (M~I’m so glad my drummer won’t be reading this interview), but that would be a lie, ‘cause it doesn’t happen. He actually came to us that way. He showed up at our first show with a suit jacket designed with our name on the back written in glitter and puff paint. We knew he was a keeper then. He owns a suit and tie in every color, including zebra print…if you can call zebra print a color.

The Local Skank’s CD, Collect All Five, is an awesomely entertaining, brightly produced collection of their original songs. With quirky arrangements and instrumentation held down by the solid, rocking rhythm section, this is a great summer playlist album–ahhh, ‘specially Quit My Dayjob, which I’m listening to right now, as I write this, at work. What are the odds that my boss will read this review? Yeah…  You can find the Local Skank’s CD, Collect All Five, on iTunes, CD Baby and Amazon.

You can follow all their adventures on FaceBook (www.facebook.com/pages/The-Local-Skank/171476307540) and Twitter (http://twitter.com/#!/thelocalskank), and if you’d like to get their calendar so you can have a little skank in your life every day, you can get in touch with the skanks through their website, www.thelocalskank.com

Of all the films I’ve had the solemn duty to review, my greatest surprise has been a collection of short horror films compiled under AAAAAAH!!. I had never even heard of a Horror short, but upon reflection why wouldn’t there be? Short film subjects are gaining more and more notoriety, and it is a fantastic avenue for young, aspiring directors and screenwriters to get their feet in the water.

Now comes a second collection under the AAAAAH!! Brand, and I have to say to start with that I found this group of films as engaging as the first volume. Sometimes there is an air of familiarity to most of the stories, as they generally all follow some pretty standard story lines. But that is the genre. If you like Horror films, this sort of thing is not nearly as important as the other components of the film.

I liked that in this collection not all the films took itself so seriously. There was some wonderful dark humor in this compilation, especially the Canadian short “Legend of the Seven Bloody Torturers” which has a bureaucrat coming to a dungeon to inspect the torturers and the prisoners that admire them. Very short but quite funny.

Not to be missed for the same reason is “Trick or Treat” which features a young woman dealing with an impudent child dressed as a skeleton demanding candy even though Halloween was the day before, and wreaking havoc when the woman refuses. There are a couple of great twists to this one.

The most impressive film for me on the disc was the first one featured. “The Room” opens with a young woman trapped in a small bloody cell by her father, for reasons she doesn’t understand. She has strange conversations with her sister who comes to bring her food, and ask her help with homework, but can’t let her out as “bad things will happen.” The story is realized gradually and fully and the Meza-Valdez brothers managed to tell a very complex story in only 20 minutes. The atmosphere is intoxicating.

“Out of the Darkness” also stood out for me as it took the most risk writing wise, of any of the films featured. The story follows a frustrated man who is about to become a father for the first time, and the stress and insecurity he feels about the baby has led him to drink and be verbally abusive to his wife. He gets into an accident while drinking and wakes up to find himself cared by a woman who seems almost from another era. Quickly the viewer starts to question what is real, and what is the stuff of this man’s nightmare.

Filmed in black and white, the writer/director Nicolas Rucka took a risk presenting such a complex and occasionally surrealistic film with such time constraints, but I think he pulled it off, and the actress who played the “other woman” gave a very multi-level performance.

Finally “Gnaw” tells the tale of 3 people who are in the midst of a zombie infestation and hole themselves up in the hallway of a school but 2 of the 3 are bitten, and tension is high as the group tries to holdout, hoping for a rescue from the infected that may never come.

From the first seconds to the final credits the stakes are very high, and the production made much out of showing very little. What is beyond the barricade became very ominous indeed.

I only hope I get a chance to see a third volume of this wonderful series, as this is becoming a really strong showcase for a new generation of Horror directors.

F: Then eventually we hooked back up at York University.
L: When did you start Gooffee, and how long had you known each other when you started?
F: I guess we had known each other for 4 years, maybe 5 years.
K: I guess 4 years, but to be honest, be barely hung out. We knew each other through friends from back in the day.
F: We knew each other through music back in high school and then became closer when we went to York U.
K: We started sharing songs that we both liked, like EDM music that we both enjoyed, and through that we decided to start a project.
F: I put up some House music online, and almost a week later I was approached by a record label, and I said “fuck, I can’t do this by myself.” Kolter’s a great producer, I had already known this, so I teamed up with him.
L: What’s changed since you guys started making music?
F: Well, we went from House to Dubstep.
L: What about between you guys?
F: Not really, the reason we work is because we can be really brutal with each other. When we are in the studio and something’s not working out, we’ll just say, “this is shit, let’s move on.” We’re honest with each other.
L: So, you guys have pretty much been like that since day one then?
F: Pretty close, there was probably a bit of a transition period. Maybe a week or two. By the third or fourth time we had gotten together, we knew what we had.
K: The first three times we got together there were some songs that we were kind of coasting with despite the fact that neither of us really loved what we were making. It was more about understanding and working with a new person. Once we decided to be completely honest, it was like “fuck that, we are here to make music.” And when we got past that, that’s when we started to find the sound we were looking for.
F: That was definitely what let us achieve our max potential.
L: Who are Gooffee’s influences?
F: Shit man, that changes on a daily basis.
K: Our influences range from everything. I come from a thrasher/hardcore kind of background. I used to play in a band in the hardcore scene. We love the heavy, especially in EDM, the heavier the better. In particular, I can’t name influences, I would go on forever.
F: And then tomorrow I’d name a million more.
L: What were you listening to when you first started making music together?
F: When we first started we were more into the Dutch House scene. So, like when AfroJack first started coming up. But we have moved really far away from that.
K: That was more him. He really introduced me to the Dutch House scene. The whole reason I got into EDM was like The Bloody Beet Roots, Crookers, MSTRKRFT. They really broke it out to me that way, and I understood from that I could take the hardcore background into an EDM kind of feel. I never really understood EDM before then.
F: When Dubstep started to come to North America we were both interested in it, but when we started to produce Dubstep, it just felt natural.
K: I’ll easily attribute Fil for the majority of opening my mind to it.
L: What are you guys listening to today?
F: I’m listening to a lot of hip hop personally like OFWGKTA (Odd Future Wolfgang Kill Them All)
K: For me, I’m really feeling the Toronto producers like Torro Torro, Zed’s Dead, Killabits, The Frandiscos.
F: Yeah! A lot of people killing in Toronto right now.
K: Once you’ve been introduced to the scene, it’s a lot easier to become influenced by meeting people on Facebook, checking out their updates and hearing people you know. The Toronto scene fits me a lot more than anything else.
F: Toronto’s on the map, for sure.
L: Do you feel like your influences shape your music?
F: Yeah, from time to time, but we try and do our own thing. We are trying to not repeat anything. We feel like there’s no point imitating songs that are already good, so we try and do something else. Then we get our own Gooffee style going.
K: Yeah, no doubt. I listen to a lot of new music and I try to find what I like, and what I don’t like and try to understand the fact that this song is big because these guys have their own niche, or sound they are going for. Then it’s about trying to create that for ourselves, by taking the things we do like and replacing the things we don’t. Adding more Gooffee influence in the background helps us build with that.
F: I’d say with the new wave of Electronic producers, it’s not so much about the way their song sound but how they produce their tracks. The way they EQ and master. You have a model to work with, and you know this is what you have to achieve. We don’t want to copy anyone, just take lessons on how to produce.
L: What do you feel makes good Dubstep and what makes bad Dubstep?
F: At the end of the day it’s subjective, but in my personal opinion, a lot of people repeat themselves in Dubstep. There is certainly a formula for dubstep. They have a nice little melody in the intro and then just wobble the fuck out at the drop. It’s been done, and it’s been done to great effect, but this scene is moving so fast and there are so many producers, that I’m looking for shit that sounds more fresh. Like when you’re listening to your headphones and you’re like, “holy shit, what is that sound? I’ve never heard that before!” I want to hear something that makes me go, “what the fuck was that?!”.
K: I’m not looking so much to create a sound as I am a texture. If you listen to a song there are certain textures that the bass might take, or the highs might take, and it’s not so much a sound anymore as it is a feeling. We’re trying to EQ our stuff to get a lot more feeling out of it.
L: How important are the tools you work with? Does it require good tools to make good music?
F: Well, we’ve found that using things like a MIDI keyboard really helps. You can press one key and screw around with the pitch shift.
K: Yeah, just automate it a little bit. But as far as tools go for production, software and stuff like that, it completely depends on the producer. I know producers who have done phenomenal things with FL Studio, great things with Ableton. We personally use Reason, but it’s not about what you use, just how you use it.
L: What was the most memorable show you’ve ever played?
K: Probably the Mansion show at Wrong Bar. Or the show we played with Peace Treaty. It was a shitty turn out but I got to play with idols of mine.
F: One of my favorite shows was this house party in Ottawa. We played for 15 minutes. People were hanging off the ceilings, and I thought the roof was going to collapse. The cops came, and it was perfect, I couldn’t have asked for better.
L: What’s in the future of Electronic and how if Gooffee a part of it?
F: We are trying to push the envelope. Trying to take dubstep to a new level. Take hip-hop to a new level. Trying to focus less on genres and more on creating songs. For most of our career we have been like, “OK, let’s make this House song” or, “let’s make this Dubstep song.” Now we are trying to just do what feels right.
K: Genres aside, regardless of drum percussion, or bpm, we’re just interested in making music.
F: I’m very excited about what we have to come and we hope people enjoy it.

For over two years, Gooffee has been killing the Toronto EDM scene with their massive beats and reckless disregard for traditional genres. House, Dubstep, and Hip-Hop are just a few sounds they have managed to mix together to brew an all new moltov cocktail aimed at anyone willing to listen. They’ve shared the stage with heavy weights such as Vitalic, Peace Treaty, Torro Torro, Tapedeck Bro’s, The Frandiscos, Mix Chopin, Barletta, and Alex Metric just to name a few. With 4 solid EP’s and an impressive 20+ tracks up on Soundcloud, it won’t take you long to understand why the bass in your face has left dancing as the only option. From the lowest lows, highest highs, Gooffee’s got something for every critic and fan alike.

You can find Gooffee on Itunes as well as,
http://soundcloud.com/gooffee
http://twitter.com/gooffee
http://www.facebook.com/gooffee

FEATURE WRITTEN BY DEREK LEDUC

The Lady

~Imagine Alanis in Wonderland having tea with Charles Dickens and The Cranberries~

Being born during The Week of The Unconventional has its advantages in the artist’s life. Lovingly referred to as being “weird” and an “odd duck”, Meghan Morrison (LeBlanc)’s journey to music has been just as backward as the series of happy accidents that brought her to the scene.

And a talented lady she is, recently finishing an original composition for a short film and scoring the trailer. She also as of this week will be writing a column for WomensRadio.Com that is based on her real life adventures, in trying to establish a career as an independent artist. As a creative writer (not just a songwriter) and friend, she aspires to take on the challenges of trying to write from a perspective outside of her own (and in imaginary or real environments) to create something meaningful for people that matters to her.

She also supports the work of charity giants such as War Child, Amnesty International, World Vision, and the David Suzuki Foundation, feeling it is important to provide a platform where grassroots organizations can be recognized for the work they do on a local, national, and/or international level.

From her success blog to her goals, this gal has a full plate, and seems to be all up for seconds.

The Music

After completing a Master’s degree in Applied Health Sciences at Brock University, which coincided with her former band (Purl of Surf) parting ways, she decided to put any further academic endeavours on hold in order to initiate her solo project in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in the fall of 2008. The following spring Meghan took her maternal family name and organized a busking tour that enabled her to travel home to Nova Scotia for her cousin’s wedding in the summer of 2009. While most artists tour to promote a CD, it is befitting that Meghan’s debut solo album was the opposite; Dara’s Wedding Tour Souvenir CD, as the name suggests, was created to support the tour.

Awarded “Best Female Vocals in Alternative Pop” on GarageBand (week of January 25th, 2010) for her part on Fly With The Angelz (from the BBF album), critics describe Meghan’s music as “ambitious song-writing” and say her voice “reaches from powerful, sorrowful, and everywhere in between”. Often compared to Alanis Morissette in sound and physical appearance, which this writer can concur, Meghan’s style is still unique and is a dynamic and emotive blend of dark and light sounds, with ethereal qualities that are textured by her East Coast/Celtic roots. “Though most of my lyrics are written in the second person, they are actually very introverted. And though I am an incessant giggler, my songs are often quite serious and dark. I’ve been told that I’m a walking contradiction. I like that. It feels human.”

Her focus now is on writing and recording the next album with her new band (Kelly LeFaive – Violin, Brad Gulka – Drums, Colin Davis – Lead Guitar, Stuart Everitt – Bass and Rhythm Guitar), set to be released during a double release party with You Left Saving the Planet (a band she plays Synth in and will be gigging regularly with in 2011.

After completing a Master’s degree in Applied Health Sciences at Brock University, which coincided with her former band (Purl of Surf) parting ways, she decided to put any further academic endeavours on hold in order to initiate her solo project in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in the fall of 2008. The following spring Meghan took her maternal family name and organized a busking tour that enabled her to travel home to Nova Scotia for her cousin’s wedding in the summer of 2009. While most artists tour to promote a CD, it is befitting that Meghan’s debut solo album was the opposite; Dara’s Wedding Tour Souvenir CD, as the name suggests, was created to support the tour.

Though the Canadian songwriter’s music has yet to hit air waves in her home and native land, the album was picked up by a number of radio stations across the US during a trial radio campaign in 2010. Despite this opportunity, she has decided to keep the physical album as a limited edition in order to maintain the integrity of its ‘souvenir’ status.

Her songs are of a true troubadour, and from”Rise and Shine” to “Ball and Chain” every song is a story that is memorable. This girl is going places.

Meghan’s albums are available on iTunes and CD Baby, as well as her official website: www.meghanmorrison.com. For other information try twitter.com/megsmorrison or myspace.com/meghanmorrisonmusic

Movies

Standard

In the age of the internet, the “webisode” has become extremely popular in the last few years. In a prime example of how the internet can be a mechanism for artistic freedom, film makers are now not as dependent on TV networks to get a show on the air. Now they can just do it themselves, and post it online for anyone to watch and give feed back. These shows are almost always done on the cheap and no one makes money, but it’s great for getting exposure and experience.

That’s all the invitation that Brett and Jason Butler need. They were last seen starring and writing the comedic “mob” flick “Notorious Newman Brothers.” Now they have started posting episodes of their new Online effort “Larry and Burt’s Gut Rot.” The Butler brother’s play Larry and Burt who are both pretty unhappy with how life is treating them. Larry delivers pizza for a living and hates his job so much that he spends an hour after every shift cleaning, trying to get the smell of pizza out of his car. Each episode features Larry trying to do his job, but customers constantly making it difficult. Those that are truly awful make Larry’s list, of horrible customers.

Burt on the other hand is unemployed and flat broke, a condition fed by his unhappy relationship with his girlfriend Ruth, who continually picks on him. Larry spends a lot of his time in the bathroom as a place of solitude, but even there he’s never quite safe from Ruth. The three live together in a small apartment, and getting by is obviously a struggle.

Unlike “Notorious Newman Brothers” where the dialogue was rapid fire and a little chaotic, here the Butler’s are focused more on the images telling the story. It was often quite effective in the Larry sequences especially, as Larry is in an awkward situation with a customer and the silence between dialogue really added to the tension. Brett Butler who plays Larry has a really intriguing voice (reminds me of Stephen Wright), which works quite well for comedy.

Each episode of “Larry and Burt’s Gut Rot” are 10 minutes including a fun ad for Larry’ workplace, Upper Crust Pizza. Two episodes have been posted so far which can be found on Youtube at the Gutrot’s Channel. I think a lot of people who are struggling in these tough economic times will find a friend in Larry and Burt, and should give an episode a wirl.

Punk music is something that inspires me, infuriates me, and at other times
baffles me.  Sometimes all at the same time.  But having the opportunity to
work some punk shows back in the early 90’s I was always quite impressed
with how the local punk community were extremely committed, fanatically
loyal, and in about 5 or 6 bands at one time.  (That, and always trying to
sneak in booze past the door, thinking I was an idiot) There was a real
sense of community amongst these kids.  Thus, I was pleased to watch
“Between Resistance and Community,”  and saw that these little punk
sub-cultures are as popular as ever across North America.

The focus of the doc is on the Long Island punk scene which refers to
itself as “DIY Punk” or Do It Yourself.  This is an idea that has been
repeated in many communities where there isn’t a great deal of public space
for punk bands to perform.  In cases like these fans improvise by hosting
bands in their homes which has proved popular to bands and fans alike.  By
playing in a home instead of a bar, the band gets almost the entire door,
interact with the fans in ways they never would in a formal setting, and
they like getting dinner from the host, and having a place to sleep with a
little bit of cash in their pocket before getting back on the road to the
next show.

The documentary interviews a lot of local punk bands and fans alike on a
range of interesting issues.  One of  them detailed  a rift developing
between some of the bands when one of their own, On the Might of Princes,
signed with a larger record label to get better distribution and promotion
of their music and tours.  A number of the bands and fans expressed
disappointment and concern that a band  the Long Island punk scene had
helped develop and nurture was now “selling out” by signing with a larger
label.  On the Might of Princes stressed that this wasn’t about money, but
about trying to get their name out there.  This discussion was quite
fascinating.

Fans of the music will love all of the live performances by a number of
local and touring bands throughout the documentary and in the extras as
well.  The extras on this dvd are jam packed with great follow up interviews
since the documentary was originally made in 2001 and one extra in
particular, talks specifically about women in the punk scene who often have
trouble fitting into the male dominated culture and how the girls of the
Long Island scene created their own organizations to express themselves.
This is a great document of an often maligned youth culture (as the constant
run ins with law enforcement shows),  which fans of punk music will delight
in.

Quality over Quantity is Evident with AAAAAH!! Indie Horror Hits

Horror is a genre I must admit I don’t spend a lot of time on. So many of the movies that I see coming out of main stream horror seem directed at the teenage dollar and more focused on special effects and killing people, rather then narrative and creating the odd “scare” for the audience. Then, a couple of years ago, I started to watch some of the films coming out of the “Masters of Horror” series, and my opinion began to change. Many of the films were quite original, and the film-making was often inventive. With “AAAAAH!! Indie Horror Hits” horror fans get treated to a series of 7 independent short films, from the United States and Canada.

Canadian Director Miguel Gallego, is the brainchild behind this project which sets out to give greater exposure to indie horror films that were well received on the festival circuit, but risk fading into obscurity as short films have difficulty finding an audience. All 7 films vary greatly in their length and their style.

Gallego features his own film “Crypt Club” a rather quirky and creepy tale of three teenage girls coming to a remote cemetery so that one of them can be initiated into the club, by desecrating the grave of an infamous murderer. The 3 young actresses give strong performances, and the director executed the many twists to the story expertly.

Two other films really stood out here as well. “Old Friends” was directed by Kevin Greutert who some horror aficionado’s will recognise as the editor on the iconic Saw series. This short film convinced producers to allow Greutert to direct Saw VI. The clever short details the worst case scenario of the Avian flu epidemic of a couple of years ago, where the virus has over run an American city and survivors are holed up in their homes waiting for rescue that’s not coming as food, water, and electricity (not to mention hope) dwindle, and neighbours turn on each other for what little remains. The final line of the film is one that is extremely funny although in the context of the disasters of the last decade, rather haunting as well.

Oculus” is much more of a psychological horror of a man (Scott Graham) investigating a mirror that he believes is responsible for tragedies dating back to the 1700’s that have led to the deaths of hundreds of people. As the man begins his investigation of the mirror he has gone to great pains setting up an environment that will protect him from what befell so many others and allow him to uncover the mirror’s secrets. Director Mike Flanagan does a great job of creating a build to the story and a growing sense of dread as our investigator relates to the cameras he’s meticulously set up around the room the history of the mirror and the terrible fate of its numerous owners. As the film continues we learn of the investigator’s own connection to the mirror and strange things begin to happen, but is it all in his head?

A great collection all in all, and there is a second compilation already in development. This DVD is a must for all horror fans, as it gives you a taste of some great up and coming horror directors. I look forward to the next installment.

Max Chaplin (Ryan Noel) is a meek little man living with his mother and desperately wanting to be a documentary film maker. In hopes of finding inspiration he puts an ad in the classifieds looking for anyone interested having their story told. Much to his horror, and later fascination he is contacted by Paulie and Thunderclap Newman (Jason and Brett Butler) who according to them are major criminals who want their lifestyle documented. After much cajoling and eventually having his life threatened, Max and his small crew reluctantly meet up with the Notorious Newman Brothers, to experience some breaking and entering, some drug deals, and a lot of insults directed at poor Max.

Notorious Newman Brothers is the fourth film from the Toronto based Butler Brothers who were last seen in Confusions of an Unmarried Couple. A difference between this film and their previous outings is that they did not direct, as well as star, write and produce. Directing was Ryan Noel, who also played the film-maker. Noel made the movie very guerrilla style, as many great mockumentaries in the past have done. There was defiantly echo’s of a 90’s Belgian film called Man Bites Dog, about a film crew that follows a likeable psychotic killer on his daily rounds.

The movie has a lot of funny moments, almost all of them coming from Paulie and Thunderclap who’s chemistry was rapid, flowing, and unrelenting from the second they first entered the frame. I appreciated that they could be rather crude and foul one moment, and get extremely absurd the next. The two brothers never hesitate in trying to relate what kind of bad-asses they are, and more importantly trumping each other’s ridiculous claim with something even more outlandish. As the film went on it became extremely apparent that the Brothers were hiding something and weren’t nearly the hardened criminals they so desperately want the world to believe they were.

While a number of the comic moments in the movie were very funny, many of the scenes felt a bit long. The point of the scenes and the humour was often reached half way in, but the scene continued to roll on. It felt that if some of the scenes had been scaled back the film overall would have benefited.

However, this is a good outing from the trio of film makers, who showed that you do not need a large budget to create a world for viewers. What you need is an idea and the passion and follow-through to bring it off.

Since the early 1990’s an event has been occurring on the last Friday of every month in cities around the world. Cyclists get together for a spontaneous ride through the main streets of a given town, as a way of celebrating bike culture and to spotlight the inadequate consideration given to the growing number of cyclist in most urban areas. Originally beginning in San Francisco, the “Critical Mass” event is now common all around the world. Still We Ride highlights the problems between Critical Mass riders and authorities in New York City where Police and City Officials have become very aggressive in trying to shut down the monthly ride, much to the displeasure of the cyclists.

The film focus’s on the period of the summer of 2004, preceding the Republican National Convention through the first half of 2005. In this period the Critical Mass had become a rather popular event attracting as many as 5,000 riders as they rode around Manhattan, much to the annoyance of Police who saw it as a disruption of traffic and a form of protest with no permit. In response to this, and with the support of city hall who wanted to clear the streets for the upcoming convention, New York’s finest tried to shut down the rides with mass arrests, confiscating bikes, and using extremely aggressive tactics.

As I watched many shots of cops holding cyclists on the ground while handcuffing them, and fellow officers threatening crowds with clubs and pepper spray, I kept thinking to myself, “Is all this really necessary?” Officials hoped that by arresting those who rode in the event, harassing them at their meeting points, and tightening city laws, that the group would fade away.

Much to their displeasure the group refused to back down from what they felt was their basic right to ride their bikes as part of traffic, and as an act of free expression. Thus, the violent clashes were repeated for several months.

Directed by a trio of filmmakers and bike activists (Elizabeth Press, Andrew Lynn, Christopher Ryan) the doc is a passionate telling of the clashes between Critical Mass and authorities and they make no attempt to hide their own personal bias. The film is vibrant, taking the viewer into the sub-culture, and talking about their struggle in terms of basic rights and self-expression.

At 37 minutes it is a very quick watch and moves at a brisk pace. Those who are cyclists, or are interested in social movements, or concerned with over-reactive authorities will defiantly be interested in this document.

Homeland Insecurity is the latest film compilation to be released by indie-filmmaker, and zine writer Bill Brown. Perhaps best known for Confederation Park (1999), Mr. Brown a native of Lubbock Texas, and shoots his movies on 16mm giving them a home movie feeling. His films are documentaries of sorts, but the themes he explores are often quite personal, making these movies refreshingly difficult to categorise.

The DVD contains 3 short films including Kustom Kamera Kommandos which is a very funny musical tribute to a man, his camera, and their devotion to each other. In Hub City Brown examines his hometown of Lubbock Texas, who’s greatest claim to fame is the birthplace of Buddy Holly. In the earnest deadpan that typifies the narration of his movies, Brown bemoans the obsession most of us have with dates and locations of tragedies (the day the music died), while few are interested in what led up to the disaster. He terms the film “as the first part in a doomed project” in tracking the skies above Lubbock over time. He contrasts the sky with shots of Lubbock that shows a town looking frayed and slowly being reclaimed by a patient desert.

The main event of this DVD is The Other Side, which is a fascinating and sometimes troubling look at the multitude of problems along the U.S-Mexico border as he travels by car from his home state of Texas to California. Illegal immigrants has been a concern for many years, but after 9/11 and the rampant paranoia that came with it, border guards had the mandate to crack down on these migrants. It is alleged that since security has been raised, migrants have been dying by the hundreds in the desert. The thesis of the film appears to be that for all the money and manpower that’s been put into border security (including construction of the infamous “border fence”), illegal migration hasn’t been curtailed at all. It’s only made it much more dangerous and expensive for those trying to get across.

Brown in his journey finds a number of individuals that have tried to help these illegals, concerned more about their survival then their legal status. There is a whole sub-culture in this border region of secret aid stations manned by students, blue water barrels filled by former weapons designers, and migrant camps that lay deserted except for scattered water bottles. The film is full of his beautiful still postcard photography of the desert and discarded signs of humanity, filled out by his narration and unseen interviews. The anonymous voices made everything just a little bit eerie, in its presentation.

The three films together are a little less then 70 minutes and it definitely left me wanting more. He has a great eye for finding the odd in the everyday, and narrating in a prose that reminds me of CBC’s Wiretap. If you are a fan of documentaries, or unique filmmaking Bill Brown is definitely one to watch.

What is Dreamscape? It’s a chip that is inserted beneath the scalp that turns your ordinary dreams into intricate adventures. Fantasies are downloaded from a central program for a monthly fee. It is based in your reality, so the stories are Dreamscape, but you settings are your own.

The setting is speculative sci fi, as in today, but another dimension. The look, bleak, black and white, with art deco buildings and a slight noir bent. The setting and dark themes are well photographed, never trying to outdo the medium (dv video) they are shot in.

Our hero an everyman, deadpan Daniel J. Fox (also the writer, director, editor, photographer and camera operator. Go Daniel go!) , has the Dreamscape chip inserted into his scalp. When he falls asleep the audience is pulled into what could be a dream about the main character suddenly being turned into some sort of secret agent, or is it reality? The whole time, while enjoying a very passible script, and a few terrible, but thankfully minor, characters, I was worried that I will end up so confused I would have to diss what started off as a promising, intriguing, and well shot low budget thriller. Luckily I was catered and explained to.

A true family affair (I think I counted three Foxes, with multiple production and acting roles) Dreamscape is worth the watch.

Bio:

Graduating from the North West School of Art and Design in 2003 with a BA Hons in the Moving Image, Daniel has over 7 years experience writing and directing shorts, music videos and promotional films.

Dreamscape follows the success of his short film, Vendetta, which premiered at the 2004 NYIFVF winning the award for Best International Short Film.

Co-director of Chat Noir Productions Ltd. he is presently developing several feature projects and television projects.