Chieftain

Calgary sludge storytellers Chieftain talk barbarians and bears

CALGARY — Georgia Meadows has to be coaxed into telling the ‘Bear Story.’ Onstage she’s a willowy, mystical presence in wide-brimmed Stevie Nicks hats, with a coruscating roar and a sweet croon. In person she’s funny and self-effacing, and has to have her hat wrestled off her head by Tanner Wolff, the band’s drummer, after claiming to have a bad hair day. One of two singers for Chieftain, she was recruited by singer, guitarist and high-school friend Rhys Friesen despite never having played music before and the reason, he says, is the ‘Bear Story.’

“When I was living in Canmore I went for a run and came across a grizzly bear. I couldn’t remember what you do when you come across a bear. Are you supposed to look it, curl up into a ball, punch it in the nose? So I decided to stand up on my tippy-toes and put my hands up in a claw shape above my head and I roared at it. It kind of looked at me like ‘what the fuck?’ and then it lunged at me. I roared again and it ran away. That’s my bear story.”

If the roar was terrifying enough to scare away a 600-pound apex predator, Friesen reasoned, it was right for the project he had started with Andrew Trueman, a project that would become Chieftain.

 

Read more at Beatroute

Lust for Youth

Scandinavian post-punks Lust For Youth embrace pop

CALGARY — It may be the case that the fondness Northern Europeans have for electronic music is all down to the climate. Much like Canada, for half the year the weather is miserable enough to confine the population indoors, moving between heated apartment complexes to office blocks to shopping malls in boxy, efficient cars. Technology isn’t just a fact of life in Sweden, where Lust for Youth was founded; it’s what makes life possible. In the grim Northern English cities where much of what became ‘synth-pop’ (roughly speaking Lust for Youth’s genre, at least on their most recent record, 2014’s International) originated, the only good things in the lives of the members of New Order (from Manchester) or The Human League (Sheffield) were televisions, record players and later, synthesizers.

For Hannes Norrvide, for two albums the band’s sole member, the decision to avoid acoustic ‘rock’ instruments was simple.

“It’s fun to work with synthesizers and electronic instruments and see what kind of sounds you can come up with.”

Read more at Beatroute

Big Ups

New York City punks Big Ups talk nerdy to us

CALGARY — In 2015, it isn’t just acceptable to be a nerd; it’s one of the paths to real success. Two of the three most successful films of all time are hard sci-fi about blue cat-people and a superhero epic set in a labyrinthine extended universe, while the latest movie about bros being total dudebros, bro, has languished at the box office. The world has become so complex, knowledge so specialized that a degree from the University of Life with post-graduate work at the School of Hard Knocks isn’t going to get you far. Ostentatious, obnoxious displays of masculinity and conspicuous consumption will make anyone with a clue swipe left the minute you swagger in reeking of Axe. Modern life has but one commandment: don’t be a douchebag.

Most of the bands you’ll read about in these pages might seem like paragons of cool, but get them talking about the intestinal tangle of patch cords on a synthesizer or the right way to mic up a drum kit and you’ll realize that the guys in vintage tees and skinny jeans are as true to their geekery as any Calgary Expo cosplayer.

I write all of the above somewhat frivolously yet seriously. This is because the next band in these pages is Big Ups, whose six-word descriptor could be shortened to the ‘epitome of everything cool.’ They are a New York based post-hardcore band. Beyond that, though, they really love them some Magic: The Gathering.

 

Read more at Beatroute

Catholic Girls

Calgary’s Catholic Girls are dirty, spooky, soulful synth-punk personified

CALGARY — “Being in a band is like being in a marriage,” says Erin Jenkins, guitarist and vocalist in Catholic Girls.

“The first part is all fun and puppy-dog love, eventually you move out of that phase and have to work at keeping the magic alive.”

“The magic” being dirty, spooky, soulful synth-punk with a heavy debt to goth and waves both new and dark. Calgary’s very own Catholic Girls, three quarters of whom are boys, might be too young to remember much of the ‘80s, but they’ve got the decade’s queasy mix of populism and idiosyncrasy down. Since forming two years ago from members of just about every Calgary band that wasn’t Tegan and Sara, they have released two EPs of first rate synth-punk: 2014’s Sheila Joined a Cult, which was heavy on the punk, and the excellent April release Psychic Woman, in which the synths come to the forefront.

 

Read more at Beatroute

Thugs

Stranglers – India’s Thug Tribe

Nineteenth century Britain saw the beginning of the mass media at its best and worst: novelists like Charles Dickens could become household names serializing their novels, a careless journalist could nearly inspire a pogrom by linking the ‘Jack the Ripper’ murders to London’s Jewish population. ‘If it bleeds, it leads’ was, like today, the ethos of the popular press; and if one of the many, many groups under the British Empire’s boot-heel could be demonized in the process, then all the better.

The ‘Thugs’ of India were one such group, but they may have deserved the scorn: they are alleged to have killed anywhere between fifty thousand and two million people during a reign of terror that lasted hundreds of years. Operating all over the Indian sub-continent, the loosely organized fraternity of Hindus and Muslims were a feared and often respected ‘gang’, ‘tribe’ or ‘cult’ depending on who you asked. Operating alone or in groups, they would infiltrate caravans of traders or befriend travelers. Once they were trusted, they would strike, strangling a target with an easy to conceal garotte like a scarf or turban. The targets would be killed in remote areas, away from the rest of their group, while other Thugs would distract the larger group with music and dancing. A grave would have already been dug, so the Thugs’ targets would seem to simply disappear – eaten by wildlife or lost in the forest. By the time the disappearances became suspicious, it would be too late: the Thugs would outnumber them or could disappear with as much loot as they could carry.

 

Read more at CVLTNATION