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/

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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.

February 2012 New Issue

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Purchase music here: http://www.katleonard.com/music.cfm
Blog: http://katblahblog.wordpress.com/
Monthly Newsletter signup & Jockstrap download: http://www.katleonard.com/home.cfm
Twitter: http://twitter.com/Katbandoo

by Carolina Smart

This feisty and FANtabulous performer would give Madonna a run for her money any day of the week.  Lyrics that are daring, emotional and in many cases downright hilarious, show that this lady is not only talented, but someone to keep your eye on.  So what’s all the hullabaloo about.  Let me tell you.

A 2011 Fringe sensation, Kat Leonard can do it all.  Sing, dance, the splits, act and write one hell of a show.  A Depper Kind Of Love, Kat Leonard’s tribute to the man she adores –Johnny Depp, is a play and CD that is filled with hilarious songs and very dark humour.

With no apologies, she digs deep into the soul of the matter. Kat Leonard’s play took the audience along for a very powerful and passionate ride, as does her CD.  Even if you haven’t seen the play, you will be drawn in and ready to strap on your seat belt for the ride.  Songs such as I’m My Own Asshole and Jockstrap will have you laughing till you cry and Only Human and Not Us will remind you that even the love of another can get us off track from loving ourselves.

A true inspiration on stage, Kat has been seen at the Toronto Fringe Festival, Love & Obsession Festival, No Sweetheart Required Festival, part of Arlene’s Wonder Women series, and Theatre Passe Murraille After Hours.  Check her website often for upcoming dates and while you are there, purchase a copy of A Depper Kind Of Love.

The ever charming and versatile Meghan Morrison is back with her new album, “We are all born naked.” I just love this girl; she is soulful, lovely, talented and unpretentious in life and in her art. Her voice always reminds me of a young Alanis Morissette, with her own distinctive style and presence of course.

The first track “We are all born naked” is a great one, a nice upbeat message. Then right into the second track “The Weather Girl” which is a completely different pace, and very original! I have to say that “Hush” is one of my favorites; I find it to be a strong ballad, showcasing her skills to the utmost, a very powerful song that draws you in.

This talented lass even sings about “Tsunami” in which she equates a storm to a relationship, very well said, getting lost in that undertow of life.

Check out her online Indie Jam every Sunday night, a Community Music Project Based in Toronto, Canada ……grab your instruments and play along at Home!

Check out FB for the latest news https://www.facebook.com/meghanmorrisonmusic ; follow her on Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/megsmorrison ….. or check out her blog! http://www.meghanmorrison.com/blog/

Tracks
Good People
The Weather Girl
Long Way
Hush
Letting me Down
Shy Lungs
Tsunami
This Song

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!

January 2012 New Issue!

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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.

Did you know that the Eighties is Back with a vengeance!!!???

Well just take a gander and a listen to L’Rocks debut CD, Law of Attraction! Actually Laura L’Rock gives you the 80 ‘s NOW!!! That is the sound that reverberates-whereas 80’s rock and hair band metal rock gave you girls girls and fame and fortune and it’s all about us making a lot of bread. L’Rock actually writes almost entirely about other artists other voices and other rooms so to speak. Very few of the songs on her new CD are about her right!!!??? Wrong, they are all about her take on life in the fast lane of 2011 and going. The lady is the lead singer in a Top Forty band called Rock Candy, but is on her own here.

There are at least five major hits on this CD. The top of the pop crop is Ball of Fire ostensibly about a fellow rock and roller but any listener will simply kick back the jams and realize it doesn’t matter who it’ s about it about being a star!!!!!!!!!!!!! A Rock Star and it is the best rock single classic that I have heard in many a year and I am not kidding. Does this sound like a review or a sound Crush—- well lads and lassies it’s both for Christ’ sake!!

Other hit singles are: the first track, Light my Fuse and check out the fantastic vid to this track directed by Western Canadian Doug Cook (L’Rock felt he is the One and He was!! as she flow out to West to get this video in the can by the best of minds but I digress); other winners are 98.5, You’re Bringing me Down, Come ON and Kiss me and the lovely rock ballad, Law of Attraction. On this track L’Rock sounds like a cross between Sheryl Crowe and Melissa Etheridge. In fact her vocalizing runs the emotional gamut from A to Z. Like she says: ‘She’s  alright! She’s alright! She’s a ball of fire!!! This ball of fire is originally from Newfoundland, but has now made her home her in Toronto. Special Kudos goes to the superlative production and Laura L’Rock gives her big thanks to Brian Gagnon. Rock is back! Bye bye Hip hop Rap and DJ’s in clubs. Live rock is here again!!

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.

November Issue

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Dust & Fumes E.P. (Patrick McCormack, 2011): A Song-By-Song review

by Myke Mazzei

Patrick McCormack’s Dust & Fumes is an immediately approachable, artfully-crafted E.P. channeling early 2000’s alt-rock in the vein of Built To Spill or a subdued American Music Club, with a folk delivery.

Featuring six dirges orchestrated with subtle percussion, memorable piano riffs, and a varied and colourful bed of guitar work, the programme ties its themes together successfully via crossfades and transitions, and one 24-second interlude.  It is a balanced response to the Chicago artist’s 2010 Fresh Paint release.

Opener “Up At Dawn” eases into the set: “Short flights home always drag/Is home all we ever have?” muses McCormack rhetorically, and the music answers, fittingly, in a sparse manner.

“Mile Away” comes across as a recording that everyone had a lot of fun creating in studio, and could easily be a popular number on college radio and blogs.  Portland’s Shelley Short contributes a perfectly-matched harmony vocal to McCormack’s near whisper in this upbeat number.

Alternating back into a slow-groove, country-tinged “So Long” has the strongest vocal delivery and is augmented by Sam Wagster’s tasteful pedal steel guitar playing, while “Dim Lights” particularly recalls the comparisons to the alt-rock maevens above, and is deceptively catchy.  Both are particularly well-recorded by Jamie Carter (CarterCo Recording, Chicago), with reverbs placing the instruments in specific sonic locations, and the drums’ presence is enough to carry the songs forward without any interference.

The recording’s title song “Dust & Fumes”, accompanied by its pre/interlude, is an Eastern European-flavoured ballad that sounds close to what Havalina Rail Co. might have stashed as a bonus track on ‘Russian Lullabies’.  Its form consists of two segments, both of different time signatures and rhythms, which is at once jarring yet suited to the song’s diatribe: “Beneath the floorboards and the grid/Beneath the frequencies and hiss/That’s where I must’ve given up”.  Eerie imagery and appropriate instrumentation make this work.

A stripped-down backing of a simple piano riff, lightly-strummed guitars, paced snare and kick drum, and bass synthesizer brings the closer “Breaking My Heart” around to unity gain.  Its understated progression veers almost back into rock territory just before stepping back and—

Well, there’s a better way to experience the song cycle of Patrick McCormack’s Dust & Fumes… he has released it digitally at http://patrickmccormack.bandcamp.com as a pay-what-you-want download.  His Fresh Paint E.P. is there as well (from which the song “Ovenbird” was selected for the 2011 Edward Burns film Newlyweds), and both are a steal.  You may also contact the artist via e-mail at: mrpatrickmccormack@gmail.com

Tracks

Up At Dawn 02:06

Mile Away 02:54

So Long 03:43

Dim Lights 03:24

Interlude (free) 00:24

Dust & Fumes 03:03

Breaking My Heart 04:02

Freeman Dre and the Kitchen Party’s Red Door Second Floor

by Nik Beat

There is a song a decade ago that has as its refrain: ‘what the world doesn’t need now is another folk singer’.  That came to mind my mind when I heard the first tune ‘Oak Tree’ from the kitchen party’s new cd. I nearly quaked in my respective Doc Martens that I would be subjected to folk world rotgalore which I am deeply prejudiced against, having been a punk folkie myself and done an enormous round of open mics, when I first moved to Toronto year and years ago and been Xposed to the worst trappings of folkie excess.

Freeman Dre and THE Kitchen Party had a surprise for me: the next song, Six Hundred Feet kicked in and I was literally steering myself from going into the ditch and back on the road for a journey that kitchen party were determined and seductively going to take me on for the rest of their album. No more crazy spells of suicidal desires to go off into the nearest expressway railing!!!!!

These guys are Canadian to boot and regard themselves Parkdale Street Folk Punks and I so regard them after listening to this cd, which has been out for less than a year. It was sent to me by friend and folkie indie label personage, Bev Kreller of Speak Music.

The group take their name from the timeless as they put it, east coast tradition of friends and neighbours getting the royal Canadians together in their kitchens  for music and fun and a few dozening drinks thrown in for good measure. They actually sound more like a combo of Tom Waits with smoother vocalizing’s and  Irish Punk group The Pogues!! They are religiously minded punk folkers on tracks like Babylon and Magdelena and its good to have faith in the lord. They are  Toronto conscious folk punks on tracks like Saturday night in Parkdale  and the song, went to town. They are goodtime rockin punk folkers on lets take the show on the road and they are situationist social critics on  needle in your eye and these walls (they listen). In other words deez cats got it comin!!! Two thumbs up from this reviewer.

ALL tracks Produced by Freeman Dre and John Critchley

 Tracks

Six Hundred Feet 04:15

Babylon 02:51

Went To Town 03:27

Let’s Take The Show On The Road 04:42

Oak Tree 03:09

Saturday Night in Parkdale 04:17

These Walls (They Listen) 02:52

Needle In Your Eye 04:46

It’s Good To Have Faith In The Lord 03:42

Funny Situation 03:32

Magdalena 03:26

Do Widzenia 03:15