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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

11 local hip-hop artists are heading to Atlanta

Halifax's finest showcase at AC3 Festival in the southern hip-hop hub

Posted By on Wed, Sep 30, 2015 at 12:17 PM

Our local artists showcasing in Atlanta next week
  • Our local artists showcasing in Atlanta next week

Next weekend, 11 local hip-hop artists are heading to Atlanta to showcase at AC3, one of the largest hip-hop festivals in America. The southern city is a literal hot-bed of hip-hop, home to artists like Gucci Mane, Rich Gang, 2 Chainz, Jermaine Dupri, Waka Flocka Flame, Andre 3000, TLC and many more. Also known as 'Hotlanta,' several musical movements have grown out of the socio-economic culture of the city, with incredible wealth positioned next to incredible poverty. Because of this economic disparity, and as a hub of the illegal drug trade, Atlanta is one of the most dangerous, crime-ridden cities in the U.S. The trap, as they say, is real. 

But this cultural climate of Atlanta has created music and artistic expression that is unique, innovative and influential, especially in the last decade. Some of America's most important hip-hop artists, labels and studios circulate around the Atlanta scene. Talent is found constantly.

To get our local rap artists down there, Melissa MacMaster at Buds Entertainment joined up with Andree Gracie (Grey Sea Management) and TMG Entertainment's Tony Makhoul to select a roster of talent to rep Nova Scotia. MacMaster pitched the idea of an all-Canadian showcase and AC3 was down to clown. With the support of Music Nova Scotia and the Province of Nova Scotia, a team of 16 people (artists, staff and a videographer, Brendan Lyle) are whippin' down to ATL on October 7: "We have been working hard setting up meetings, interviews, participating on panel discussions and organizing a VIP industry mixer, which will take place right before our showcase," MacMaster explains, "We are looking to secure publishing deals and build relationships and A&R's which will help us break into the Atlanta market." 

I spoke with the 11 artists hoping to break into the Atlanta scene, just so you know who they are when they get their own Noisey documentary. Best of luck to our hip-hop homedogs. 

First time in Atlanta

WHO I AM: I'm an 18-year-old hip-hop artist from Glace Bay. Fresh out of high school, I have four projects under my belt, most recently my "Young Superstars" mixtape from July. I've recently just returned from my Maritime "Young Superstars" tour with CDN Movement along with performing at Pop Montreal the weekend after, and I opened for Mad Child in Sydney. I've also incorporated my own company, Buds Entertainment. 

WHAT I WANT TO DO IN ATL: I have traveled to the land of Young Thug's brain many times. I'm most excited to take in the whole environment and the culture down there, and try to make as many connections as possible. I just wanna work with dope people, personality wise and creativity wise.


Been to Atlanta many times,
"networking and kickin it with friends." 

WHO I AM: A 21-year-old rapper and song-writer known for my unique and diverse style, raw and thought provoking lyrics, as well as my down-to-earth persona and community contributions.

WHAT I WANT TO DO IN ATL: Most excited to dip my toes in new waters, exchange experiences and endure knowledge, and of course this showcase. It's a blessing to be able to be a part of A3C, especially with a team of amazing Canadian artists. 

First time in Atlanta 

WHO I AM: Certi (Carvel Clayton), just turned 20. I'm from Dartmouth, from a small neighbourhood where you must hard work to see yourself get out. I've worked with a few major local artists, like Ghetto Child, JRDN, Thrillah and Quake, who taught me how to make music in a more powerful way. I released my fifth mixtape, Born And Raised 2, on along with other mix tapes. I am slowly working on my first album called Born And Raised, dropping next year. 

WHAT I WANT TO DO IN ATL: I am expecting to have a very good show, on my behalf. I want to create a fanbase out there and meet people that can help take my music to the next level. 

First time in Atlanta

WHO I AM: Dartmouth rapper; my single "Drop That" won Best Single in The Coast's Best of Music. I’ve been working on Thrillville3Thrillville2 is nominated for "Best Recording of the Year" (MNS). I’ve just been working hard trying to make another recording that will out-do my last one.

WHAT I WANT TO DO IN ATL: I’m looking forward to meeting new artists and making new connections, and the conferences. There’s always more ways to become a better artist. I’m excited to perform in the U.S for the first time. I can't wait to show them why my rap name is “Thrillah”.



Performed at AC3 in 2014

WHO I AM: I'm 26, made a name in the battle rap scene in my teens, now a seasoned artist. Award-winning MC. Released fourth studio album, Rap Music, which hit the #4 spot on the iTunes Hip Hop Charts. Now working on an EP with Classified

WHAT I WANT TO DO IN ATL: I want to see Beanie Sigel and go out to eat at Glady's Knight's chicken and waffles restaurant



First time in Atlanta

WHO WE ARE: An award-winning Aboriginal group from NB & NS. We won two Indigenous Music Awards in Winnipeg for 'Best Single Of The Year' & 'Best Group Or Duo.' This is only the beginning. 

WHAT WE WANT TO DO IN ATL: We're excited to share our music. We take pride in it. 


First time in Atlanta

WHO I AM: I've managed to build a brand around my music. "ChopTrees." I'm 15 mix tapes deep and now creating the 16th. I'm just trying to keep moms smiling. 

WHAT I WANT TO DO IN ATL: Very influenced by Atlanta's music scene, so I'm stoked to meet people and just see how it is. I wanted to see Curren$y and 2Chainz but they play the day we leave. Other than that, this is my first time in the States so I'm just stoked. May have to cause a slight sun shower at Magic City


First time in Atlanta 

WHO I AM: DJ, Singer, MC, Producer and Host of $mooth Groove$ on CKDU 88.1 FM (Sundays, 5pm). About to release $ecret $tudio $e$$ion$ Vol. 2 on Oct 12. 

WHAT I WANT TO DO IN ATL: I'm the most excited for the opportunity to showcase our talents in a music hotbed like Atlanta. Who knows what opportunities await. I'm also excited to check out the conference and festival, including seeing a lot of the artists and especially the industry insiders that will be sharing their knowledge.

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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Photos: Saturday night's NHL Preseason Game

New York Islanders VS Carolina Hurricanes at the Scotiabank Centre

Posted By on Sun, Sep 27, 2015 at 7:23 PM

The Carolina Hurricanes won 5-3 against the New York Islanders last night at a special NHL Preseason Game in the recently renovated Scotiabank Centre. Over 4,000 people turned up to check out Eastern Conference stars like Islanders captain John Tavares, Canes captain Eric Staal (and assistant captain Jordan Staal), new Hurricanes Kris Versteeg (just copped from the Chicago Blackhawks with Joakim Nordstrom), returning Cane Jay McClement and more. New additions to the Hurricanes might make for an exciting 2015 season; Islanders seem far from playoffs but who knows. The two teams meet four times during the 2015-2016 season. Neither team is a division leader but it was cool to see them. I took some pictures. 

(Enlarge photo to improve quality). 

Islanders fans swagged TF out - ADRIA YOUNG
  • Islanders fans swagged TF out
  • Adria Young
One of the Canes dropped a helmet during the anthem - ADRIA YOUNG
  • One of the Canes dropped a helmet during the anthem
  • Adria Young

McClement and Tavares - ADRIA YOUNG
  • McClement and Tavares
  • Adria Young

  • Adria Young

4th from left: Hurricanes assistant captain Jordan Staal in the press booth, one of the four Staal bros in the NHL, a farmboy with a 60 million dollar contract - ADRIA YOUNG
  • 4th from left: Hurricanes assistant captain Jordan Staal in the press booth, one of the four Staal bros in the NHL, a farmboy with a 60 million dollar contract
  • Adria Young

Views from The Pat Connolly Press Booth - ADRIA YOUNG
  • Views from The Pat Connolly Press Booth
  • Adria Young

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

AFF Reviews: The Lobster, Room

The Lobster hits rock bottom while Room is an exquisite portrait of love and healing

Posted By on Wed, Sep 23, 2015 at 2:23 PM

John C. Reilly and Colin Farrell star in The Lobster
  • John C. Reilly and Colin Farrell star in The Lobster

Movie reviewers everywhere are loving The Lobster, the first English-language film by Greek director, Yorgos Lanthimos. The absurdist comedic satire is set in a UK near-dystopia where it's illegal to be single. So when David (Colin Farrell) gets dumped, he's immediately transferred to this freak-show singles hotel where he has 45 days to find a mate or he's turned into an animal of his choice. Like Salem the cat from Sabrina the Teenage Witch. David's choice is a lobster. 

I don't even know where to start with this movie. I liked the fantastical animal concept (which feels Greek to me, shout out The Odyssey), the cinematography is stunning at times (even if it's very boring), and Rachel Weisz is perfect in everything she does. But that's really all I enjoyed about this movie. The satire was too heavy-handed, the classical Hermann-esque score was fucking annoying, and within 20 minutes, I was praying for this goddamned stupid movie to end. Excruciating. Also, the lady sitting next to me kept burping very pungent smells, which hampered an already blah experience. I'm still not sure why I hated The Lobster so much. I just did. I'm also still not sure why it's being so highly praised. Yes, the satire is effective: society does place pressure on people to find a partner, and yes, it's ridiculous because it's just an old-fashioned construct that serves society and not the individual. Sure, that sucks, but those conventions are changing, and The Lobster just seemed to make single people feel shitty about being single. Because, in the end, it gives in to the very thing it critiques. Plus, it's entirely heteronormative and racially exclusive and the comedy was redundant. And then the forest of 'loners' (a bunch of runaway singles) is depressing and violent. I can't tell which way this movie is swinging. You can't satirize both sides of the coin and expect to be coherent. So. Like. Just. What? 

Aside from a few engaging scenes, and some great acting, I don't have much more to say about this one. Those two things alone don't save this movie for me. But if you're married and want to question your relationship, check this out! And if you're single and want to question your independence, check this out! If you can stand Colin Farrell's idiot face onscreen for more than 20 seconds (unlike me) then check this out! He's in every damn scene. I'm sorry I hated this so much. 

Jacob Tremblay (Jack) and Brie Larson (Ma) in Room
  • Jacob Tremblay (Jack) and Brie Larson (Ma) in Room

On Sunday, Lenny Abrahamson's Room won the People's Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, an honour, and an omen of this film's potential. It screened that evening at the AFF; Halifax was the film's second audience ever. I'm going to keep this review short so that I don't blow anything for you. I think this film — based on the novel by Irish-Canadian Emma Donoghue — works better if you know nothing about it, so I'll just say this: go see it (limited release October 6; nationwide November 6). Very few films treat this subject matter with such sensitivity and compassion. Very few films can portray trauma beyond the characters; in Room, trauma is woven into the structure and pace of the film itself. It's an exquisite portrait of pain, perspective, love and healing. Exceptional performances all around. This one's a winner. 

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Q & A with L.A. comedy duo Cheap Smokes

Comics host variety show with 22 Minutes & the Trailer Park Boys on Wednesday night

Posted By on Tue, Sep 22, 2015 at 2:16 PM

Smokes, let's go - TONY LOMBARDO
  • Smokes, let's go
  • Tony Lombardo

Tomorrow night at The Company House, Toronto/L.A. comedy duo Cheap Smokes (Kaitlin Mamie and Laura Danowski) are presenting a variety show that'll satisfy all of your comedy cravings (8pm, $7). The show will feature special guests Adam Christie (This Hour Has 22 Minutes), Heidi Brander (This Hour Has 22 Minutes), local comic Dan Hendricken and appearances by cast members from The Trailer Park BoysSmokes, let's fuckin go

Now based in L.A., the comedy duo has appeared on Just for Laughs, MTV Canada, Sirius XM Radio and their own comedy miniseries about their move to L.A. They're in town filming sketches for TPB's SwearNet. Mamie says, "We've been shooting a ton of ridiculous sketch comedy over the past few weeks, we're really excited for people to see what we've been doing. It's going to be super funny." Gotta subscribe to that SwearNet. Danowksi says it's time to get greasy. 

Tell me about your backgrounds. You're both from Ontario?

I grew up in a small town called "Pembroke, Ontario" that's been known to be pretty wild. The highlights are murals, retirement homes, and East Side Mario's on a Friday night. I met Laura in the comedy program at Humber college in Toronto. The story goes, I went over to her house, she microwaved me some tea, and we've been best friends ever since. We became instant friends and soon realized we had the same sense of humor and started a sketch troupe.

Laura: I'm from a small town with one stop light called Thamesford. It has a festival called Calithumpian and the town crowds around a giant field with cows. The field is set up like a bingo grid and wherever the cow poops, you can cross off your bingo sheet. When you get a line or 4 corners you have "Bingo" and you win a tractor. Pretty cool if you ask me. I am very glad I moved to Toronto. Kait and I have been performing together for eight years and still going. 

How did you get wrangled up with the Trailer Park Boys? 

 They basically found our Youtube channel, watched some of our videos and realized we were insane and completely unafraid to do almost anything. We met the boys in Los Angeles, drank a giant bottle of tequila out of red plastic beer cups and immediately hit it off. 

Who is your favourite character on the Trailer Park Boys? 

I really love them all. It's a very safe answer I know, but after meeting them all in person I really can't say I have a favorite. Dancing: Ricky. Drinking: Bubbles. Cutie Pie: Julian.

Laura: I love them ALL although I do feel like Bubbles and I were separated at birth. We both love to say "yes" to anything and we hate when the party's over. They are all the best and made us feel like we've known them for years. We all got along handsomely. 

Do you perform stand-up as well as sketch? Or sketch and some stand-up?

Our performing style is a bit of a mixture of sketch and improv with a little bit of stand-up. We really like to involve the audience. We tend to be really interactive and extremely physical. I'd say we burn about 500 calories a show, easily. Can't stop, won't stop! We're very silly and fun. We've been described as being "a party onstage," which pretty much sums us up.

Laura: It's hard to describe us onstage, you kind of just have to come and watch. I'm not going to say that we don't do fart and poop jokes but I am going to say that we love fart and poop jokes and do them often. We each do character stand-up if one of us can't do a show.

What's next for Cheap Smokes after Swearnet wraps? 

Kaitlin: We're hoping to get a sketch comedy show on television. This really is an incredible time to be a female in comedy and we are so happy to be part of it. We'll be going back to L.A. We'll continue to do live comedy and film videos for SwearNet and our Youtube channel. And continue to share a luxurious one bedroom apartment in Little Armenia. Hollywood, here we come!

Laura: Someday I won't live in the living room of our one bedroom apartment but I hope we will work together forever. We say that when we (if ever) get husbands and a family that we will live right beside each other. Hopefully you'll see us next with our own show.

Check out their comedy videos now; get your chicken fingers ready for tomorrow. 

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Monday, September 21, 2015

AFF Review: Sloan at The Marquee

Halifax homedogs celebrated with free donairs, the Marquee and the moon

Posted By on Mon, Sep 21, 2015 at 3:22 PM

Sloan's 2014 release Commonwealth - SLOAN
  • Sloan's 2014 release Commonwealth
  • Sloan

On Saturday night, Toronto-Halifax's Sloan returned home to celebrate the 35th Atlantic Film Festival at a pass-holders special event at The Marquee Ballroom. There were also performances by The Brood, Rose Cousins and Buck 65 but I only made it for my Sloan dogs. 

Just after midnight, Sloan appeared and jumped right into "If It Feels Good Do It." I suspect they played the hit from 2001's Pretty Together because it was featured on the soundtrack of How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town, which premiered at the AFF earlier that day. They dig movies. Like, *Sloan-nerd alert* Sloan's "Everything You've Done Wrong" was featured in The Virgin Suicides and "Money City Maniacs" was on the Goon soundtrack. So that was cool. 

The whole set was a mixed bag, with cuts from Commonwealth between the classics: "C'Mon C'Mon" (Navy Blues) into "Carried Away" (Commonwealth) then back into the oldies, "Good in Everyone," "Snowsuit Sound," "The Other Man," which I sang pretty loud. Patrick Pentland seemed kinda stiff. Chris Murphy gave out high-fives and was kinda goofy. Jay Ferguson seemed very chill. Sometimes Andrew Scott, probably one of the best Canadian drummers, just becomes the drum kit. They jammed another Commonwealth track ("Keep Swinging") before "Who Taught You to Live Like That?" (Never Hear the End of It), which gave way to the night's most impressive song (and my new favourite from the album): Andrew Scott's "Forty-Eight Portraits."  

Last fall, Sloan released the double-LP, Commonwealth, and unlike any other release, the band made a distinction by grouping the songs by songwriter rather than mixing the tracks as usual. It was a significant stylistic change that demonstrates each member's individuality, with a pun, as well, on the band's financial and administrative policies — Commonwealth implies the band's practice of splitting everything four ways. It's probably one reason they've been able to continue working together for over 20 years. Because, and here's another *Sloan-nerd alert* moment — Sloan has always produced hits, but not everyone is writing them. And by hits, I mean radio hits; some of the most cherished Sloan songs never hit the airwaves. But airwaves = money and so the idea of 'commonwealth' works to reduce an egoistic tension in the band, and anyway, everyone is playing those songs together. But it's always been said that some Sloan songs have incredible merit and yet rarely achieve 'hit' status or whatever. I think "Forty-Eight Portraits" is one of them. 

A few years ago, I interviewed Andrew for a music magazine. When he's not drumming in Sloan, he's painting in his west-end Toronto studio garage. He's an incredible visual artist, and back when he was a student at NSCAD, his grad show "48 Portraits" at the Anna Leonowens Gallery featured the installation of 48 Richter-esque dog portraits, all of which blended photorealism and monochromism that are still features of his work. In our interview, Andrew went into great detail about his creative process, about his time at NSCAD, about the influence of Richter's own "48 Portraits" and how all of his artistic practices have the same motivations. 

Is it a coincidence that I got Andrew talking about his art and then a little while later, he named his epic 17-minute song on Commonwealth "Forty-Eight Portraits," as well? Maybe but I don't actually know. The timing works out, and that'd be pretty cool. But either way, *Sloan-nerd alert*

Mostly, "Forty-Eight Portraits" is a killer track and I'm glad they played (most of it) live. It starts off with a dog barking, presumably Andrew's own dog, with some noise interludes and odd piano scales, which appear all over Sloan's catalogue. Then it veers into that particular Andrew quality, which is always retained in his songwriting. Andrew's songs are always the darkest, the most experimental and the least "Sloan," even though this one has some pop-melody moments, as well, but more classic pop like ELO or the last bars of "I Want You," and then a choral ending. "There's a tunnel I can't see through," he sings. What a fucking sick and multifaceted track. It was great. 

They switched it all back up and hammered out "Losing California," "The Rest of My Life," "The Lines You Amend," "Penpals," and then "Money City Maniacs," before a "Coax Me" encore. Every time I see Sloan I feel a little bit older, maybe because they look a little bit older, and we're all getting old here, but it doesn't seem to matter how many times I hear some of these songs, I still get flashbacks of moments in my life to which these songs belong. Seems appropriate that Sloan songs are on movie soundtracks when so many of the albums are life soundtracks. 
At the end, I realized that the hundreds of free donairs weren't being eaten so I took home as many donairs as I could carry, which means there were about 30 donairs in my fridge all weekend and I've eaten so much fucking donair, I never want to see one again. But this donair jackpot led to some great puns made by me, including: Slonair, Twice Donaired, Donair Blues, Donair Pact, 4 Nights at the Donair Royale, and many, many more. Hopefully we get to see Sloan again soon. 

The Lines You Donair
  • The Lines You Donair

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AFF Reviews: Bound, Undone, The Stanford Prison Experiment

Some film festival thrillers from the weekend that explore human psychology

Posted By on Mon, Sep 21, 2015 at 1:26 PM

The Apple (1980), I don't even know
  • The Apple (1980), I don't even know

This weekend, several selections at the 35th Atlantic Film Festival explored human psychology through various narrative styles. On Friday, I rolled into the Lord Nelson Hotel at 1:30am to catch 1980 sci-fi musical, The Apple, which was one of the best worst movies I've ever seen, a terribly awesome, tacky romp through the exploitative music industry, set in the futuristic year of 1994. I honestly don't even know what the hell I watched but I wish I had done LSD. 

On Saturday, I made it to the Reel East Showcase 2 at 12:30pm to see some incredible Atlantic shorts and animations. This particular showcase emphasized the skill, talent and resourcefulness of local filmmakers. Highlights included Seth Smith's Wind Through a Tree, which peered into vignettes of human experience from birth to the end of life. Equally comedic and dark, the experimental short had earnest moments of reflection on life's purpose. NSCAD film student, Raghed Charabaty, blew the audience away with Alia, a visually stunning portrait of the Lebanese Civil War (it also won the Starfish Student Art Award in May).  

FILM5 production, Bound, by Daniel Boos
  • FILM5 production, Bound, by Daniel Boos

The most powerful short of the bunch, however, was Daniel Boos' Bound, a FILM5 production that focused on the exploitation of migrant and foreign labour workers. Drawn from a true Irish story, Boos created a short film packed with as much tension as humanity, which was rendered through the visible emotions of the film's characters. It was poignant, important and yet tender. Boos, a 2010 youth festival winner at Cannes, displayed incredible directorial maturity. 

In the evening, Toronto's Director X looked fly as hell for the premiere of Undone, a story of a young Cole Harbour hockey player (Stephan James) whose social circumstances threaten his dreams. Written and produced by Floyd Kane (This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Salter Street Films), and shot in Dartmouth, the story uses 1989 high school race riots and social inequity to show how little things have changed in present-day Nova Scotia. Has anything changed? 

Undone, starring Stephan James (Degrassi, Selma)
  • Undone, starring Stephan James (Degrassi, Selma)

Nope. People are still fucking racist. Women are still being trafficked in the underground sex industry. Young adults with diverse backgrounds still face fewer opportunities and much larger obstacles. This was Director X's first feature, and that actually did show. His notable and impressive work with artists like Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West didn't necessarily translate to a longer narrative. The cinematography was sleek, the soundtrack was effective, the acting was especially promising, but the overall vibe was more Degrassi High than Hype Willams. Such important and relevant subject matter could have been handled with more severity. I was expecting something like Belly, I guess. Still, this movie is a huge accomplishment in many ways — as a film that gives voice to the African Nova Scotian experience, to North Preston, to the very real and very present realities of systematic oppression in this province. There need to be 200 more films like this one. Yesterday, Undone was named the Best Atlantic Feature of this festival.

Damn. Right. 

As AFF Program Director Jason Beaudry said, The Stanford Prison Experiment is "one of those smaller Hollywood films that slips through the cracks and ends up here." Starring Billy Crudup, who has the chops to be a bigger star than he is, and a roster of hot young male actors (exclusively), the film recreates the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment that took place at the Californian university in 1971. And when I say 'recreated,' I mean recreated exactly. Everything — the size and design of the simulated prison, the character costumes and appearances, the actual audio footage — was drawn from the archives of the disastrous but insightful psychological trial. The intention of Professor Zimbardo (Crudup) was to show that institutions create situations for violence and abuses of power. It's not that there's one bad apple; the barrel itself is bad. 

The Stanford Prison Experiment
  • The Stanford Prison Experiment

What started as a routine experiment quickly degraded into the worst examples of human behaviour just because it was sanctioned by the "institution." The trial was meant to last 2 weeks; after only 6 days, the experiment was terminated. It's a revealing look at how easy anyone can fall into the role of oppressed and oppressor. It's as simple as the flip of a coin. The performances in this film were superbly convincing. The overwrought scenes were actually an asset and this film might be one of the most accurate portrayals of a historical event. Because the real-life drama was so intense, no additional drama was necessary. Definitely worth watching!

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Friday, September 18, 2015

AFF Review: Hyena Road

The second Canadian war film by Paul Gross is better in fact than fiction

Posted By on Fri, Sep 18, 2015 at 12:24 PM

Rossif Sutherland and Paul Gross star in Hyena Road
  • Rossif Sutherland and Paul Gross star in Hyena Road

This week, Paul Gross (Due South, Passchendaele) premiered Hyena Road, the first Canadian contemporary war film, which he wrote and directed, at TIFF and last night at the Atlantic Film Festival. The Afghanistan-based, Jordan-shot film also stars Allan Hawco (The Republic of Doyle) and Rossif Sutherland (son of Donald Sutherland). And, just like the film, I'm conflicted. It feels like there are at least two elements that are at odds: its social value and its theatrical value. 

Under social value, there's a lot to be said about Hyena Road's cultural relevance. Is it a coincidence that this opens just before a federal election? I wasn't sure if I wanted to attend AFF's red carpet opening at the Rebecca Cohn until I watched a clip of Donald Sutherland at TIFF. He was asked who he supports in federal politics. Without a pause, he answered "Tom Mulclair," noting his familial connection to social democrat, Tommy Douglas. He said we are destroying ourselves and ended with "Go see Hyena Road." This makes more sense since I learned his son is in it, but at the time, I thought, well shit, if Don-Don is down, I should go. 

So I went. And after about 30 minutes of speeches by directors and sponsors, Gross introduced Hyena Road. He explained that he visited Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011 and "cobbled together" stories from soldiers there: "I saw a glimpse into this extraordinarily complex world we've asked our soldiers to operate in, a world with no fixed moral compass. The burden upon our men and women in uniform is absolutely enormous. And I have largely been ignorant of that burden and I don't think I was alone. Large swaths of our country have no idea what we've asked of our soldiers ... And I felt deeply ashamed. We should at least know what it is we're asking them to do." 

And so, as the first Canadian-made film about a contemporary war conflict, Gross delivered. As some form of historical record, Hyena Road was enthralling. In the last decade of war, despite American portrayals and occasional stories on CNN, I've never really considered the context or impact of the war in Afghanistan. I'd never thought about the landscape, the horrors of Kandahar, the class structures, the Taliban, the people whose lives are lost — Canadian and otherwise — the bodies flown home to families. I am, like so many North Americans, almost entirely removed from war. Almost entirely. For this reason, for lack of a better word, I was engrossed. 

Our country is preparing to elect new leadership and Hyena Road has some utility in reminding us to ask ourselves who we are as Canadians, and who we want to be as Canadians. Scenes in this film question or challenge our accepted moral and ethical practices. There were moments in this film where I felt ashamed like Gross — not because I had been ignorant of military duty, but because I can't reconcile our attempt to impose freedom on another country when freedom in this country, Canada, is on such flexible terms: What is 'freedom'? What is Bill C-51?  

As a tool to think critically about international conflict, and to see Canadian soldiers in a context for which many ordinary Canadians have no context, Hyena Road sympathizes with and honours our soldiers. But it also seems to question why we fought this war in the first place. How much is one soldier worth? How big is the impact of military service? The film accomplishes this, at least. 

But then there's Hyena Road's theatrical value — its execution from plot and character development to technique and cinematography. Early on, we are introduced to a roster of stock military characters, some of whom are accurate portrayals of people I've known in the service, complete with maple leaf tattoos and Newfoundland accents. But on a base with an estimated 60,000 people, Hyena Road lets us know only a handful, of whom only two were women (and superficial renderings to boot). Still, we are given reasons to like these characters. As much as they were token portrayals (the beefy Black guy, the horny female communications officer, the hunky sniper), we recognize these people. And while the film didn't take much time to explore their depth beyond what was useful to the storyline, and while some moments felt like they came out of the Criminal Minds writing room, it was all very human. And that's why I cried at the end. As Gross said, these soldiers are "our neighbours, our relatives, our friends and our fellow citizens."

In terms of the intricacies and motivations, Hyena Road relied too much on a flimsy intelligence operation between Afghanis and the Taliban that highlighted the obligation of Canadian intervention within it. At times, Hyena Road exoticized the Middle East by attributing magical powers to Taliban dissenters while it villainized the "Tally" through markers of wealth. Whatever reflection this has in reality was exaggerated. In short, this is a weak Hollywood plot with a strong background. Like any good war movie, however, there were some gruesome scenes that I did appreciate. After Gross told the audience how much he loved Hobo with a Shotgun, his interest in the accurate portrayal of violence gave some power to these scenes. It gave cause for PTSD, for high rates of suicide among retired soldiers and the overall trauma of military service. Unlike horror films, in which we enter a fantasy to escape, the horrors of Hyena Road are powerful because they are — indeed — real. Where the film lacks in fiction, it makes up in fact. 

Hyena Road is worth a view. It opens in Canadian theatres on October 9. 

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Tales from the Cryptorips & Viet Cong show tonight

Polaris Prize shortlist nominees Viet Cong play Gus' Pub with our newest rippers

Posted By on Wed, Sep 16, 2015 at 2:53 PM

  • Cryptorips
  • Pigeon Row Publicity

Mark Mullane knows what's up. The former frontman of Halifax's '90s phenomenon North of America got pals together last year and started Cryptorips, a semi-nostalgic return to the math-rock of his youth. After only a few shows, the band was exciting music nerds everywhere; in July, Cryptorips opened the Toronto reunion of '90s indie-shoegaze legends, The Swirlies. Not bad. 

Presented by Octopi Entertainment, Cryptorips play tonight with Toronto's Greys and Calgary's equally mathy and post-punk-inspired Viet Cong at Gus' Pub (9pm, sold out). With two members of former art-rock outfit, Women, Viet Cong's self-titled debut album is shortlisted for this year's Polaris Music Prize, which will be announced on September 21.

Tonight's show is going to seriously rip. 

"Are we pumped? Yes, we are pumped," Mullane tells me. Especially because Cryptorips have only played one show in Halifax, "And that was a technical debacle, so we're excited to play from start to finish without breaking anything," he says. Since the release of two insane tracks in June, Mullane and the band (Holy Fuck's Matt McQuaid, Long Weekends' Adam Hartling and 'celebrity barber' Rob Oxner) have been recording new ones for a debut full-length. There's no doubt it'll channel Crypto's perfected 'angular' sound (note: 'angular' is one of the most-used words to describe anything slightly math-rock from the '90s and I think that I love it). 

"I've always been drawn to dissonant, slightly obtuse but still rockin' rollin' tunes," Mullane says, when I ask about the appeal of complex music, "When I think of math-rock, I think of bands that play parts five times instead of four, or throw in some random time signatures here and there." He references distinct math-rock bands like Don Cab, Polvo, and Shellac, which were the bands he used to play on his CKDU radio show, and which led to the formation of North of America in '97. 

"Math for the sake of math isn't appealing to me, but throwing in some razzmatazz here and there can be rewarding," Mullane says, "And a couple of [Cryptorips'] songs started out as North of America songs for an album we were recording back in 2010, so there's a bit of nostalgia but it's more about playing the music that comes naturally." A few years ago, he'd been writing pop songs for The Got to Get Got, and while he enjoyed it, "Loud atonal music is just more me," he says. 

Coming from a different musical background, McQuaid (bass) says Cryptorips is a welcome complement to his work with Toronto-based electronic simulators Holy Fuck: "I like playing actual songs — albeit pretty weird ones — for a change, unlike in Holy Fuck, for the most part," says McQuaid, "Musically speaking, Mark exclusively uses weird guitar tunings, which is both challenging and freeing as a bass player." McQuaid is also pumped to see Viet Cong: "Big fan! And Graham (Walsh, from Holy Fuck) makes their records so I have that connection." 

"We couldn't ask to be playing with better bands," says Mullane. Both Cryptorips and Viet Cong draw on '90s influences to create songs that feel familiar but new, and inviting but bludgeoning, too, and on top of that, both bands are powerful as fuck. "My old buddy and trained jazz musician Pete used to say, 'You gotta have a chain of sustained wows in every song,'" Mullane explains, "That stuck with me and if a song is too straight ahead, we just chuck in a 'wow' somewhere."

If you don't have a ticket to tonight's sold-out show, Cryptorips play Black Buffalo Records (5:30pm, free, 5576 Cornwallis Street) on Friday, and the Halifax Pop Explosion on Friday, October 23. Cross your fingeys for Viet Cong's Polaris nom. Prepare to be wowed. 

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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Nova Scotia Music Week nominees announced

Get ready to rock and/or roll in Yarmouth for the annual regional music awards

Posted By on Tue, Sep 15, 2015 at 11:03 AM

Happy Birthday Rich Aucoin!
  • Happy Birthday Rich Aucoin!

The first round of nominees have been announced for Molson Canadian Nova Scotia Music Week, taking place in Yarmouth this year from November 5 to November 8. YEAH DOGGY. The NSMW Super Show closes it out on the Sunday night at the Mariners Centre. This year's top nominees include In-Flight Safety with six nominations, Christina Martin and Jenn Grant with five each, Alana Yorke + Mo Kenney + Gabrielle Papillon + Gypsophilia each clock in at four and Rich Aucoin has been named for six awards, too! It's also his birthday today!

Voting for the awards is now open to Music Nova Scotia Members (if you want to squad up, click here) and more nominees will be unveiled soon. The full schedule for the weekend will be available on September 22. Tickets then pop off on September 25. More info here!

In the Industry Awards category, we'd like to congratulate The Coast's Arts Editor Stephanie Johns (on mat leave) on the Media Professional the Year nomination; she's the only woman on a list of six people in this category, which makes total sense to me. 


A few of the awards and nominees for 2015 include: 

Web.Com Entertainer of the Year
- Ben Caplan
- Christina Martin 
- Gypsophilia
- Jenn Grant
- Joel Plaskett
- Rich Aucoin

Solo Recording of the Year
- "Dream Magic," Alana Yorke
- "It'll Be Alright," Christina Martin
- "The Tempest of Old," Gabrielle Papillon
- "Compostela," Jenn Grant
- "In My Dreams," Mo Kenney
- "Ephemeral," Rich Aucoin

Group Recording of the Year
- "Dreamsphere," Aqua Alta
- "Night Swimming," Gypsophilia
- "Hillsburn," Hillsburn
- "Conversationalist," In-Flight Safety
- "Silver Fang," Mardeen
- "Still Waking Up," Rain Over St. Ambrose

Music Video of the Year 
Presented by NSCC Burridge Campus
- "Santa Never Brings Me A Banjo" (Dir. Murray Bain), David Myles
- "Animals" (Dir. Drew Lightfoot), In-Flight Safety
- "Telephones" (Dir. Nathan Boey), Mo Kenney
-  "Clothes Off" (Dir. Jason Levangie), Ria Mae
- "Yelling in Sleep" (Dir. Joel Mackenzie), Rich Aucoin
- "Take on the World" (Dir. Dillon Garland), The Town Heroes

Alternative Recording of the Year
- "Dream Magic," Alana Yorke
- "Dreamsphere," Aqua Alta
- "Conversationalist," In-Flight Safety
- "Saturnalia Regalia!" Monomyth
- "Whine of the Mystic," Nap Eyes
- "Transition Roads," Ominar

African Nova Scotian Artist of the Year
- A'drian Scott
- Ced Marty & Dave
- Corey Writes
- Marcell Symonds
- RealEyez
- Reeny Smith

You can see the complete list of nominees right here. Mmm, fresh Yarmouth lobster. 

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Monday, September 14, 2015

Check out all these locals playing Pop Montréal

Québec's coolest music festival features a ton of dazzling Haligoons and more

Posted By on Mon, Sep 14, 2015 at 10:49 AM


From this Wednesday until this Sunday, the city of Montréal will be "fire," as they say. The kids say that. Dozens of music's 'coolest' acts (Thurston Moore, for one, and Motörhead, for some reason) will take over the land of smoked meat sandies and cheap gross '40s for Pop Montreal. I wish I could go but alas. Luckily The Coast has Montréal correspondent, Josh Salter (Nap Eyes, Monomyth, Psychic Fair), on the beat. Yeah that's right. He's a Beatle now. 

Anyway, if you're planning on hitting up Pop Montréal, you can discover tons of new bands or see old favourites, but mostly you should support all the Halifax-associated acts that are dominating the lineup, plus a few of my recommendations. For starters, I'd probably go see Montreal's First You Get The Sugar not because I like their music (I don't) but because that's a pretty blatant Simpsons reference and one of my favourite episodes of all time. Please enjoy this Simpsons clip. 

In alphabetical order (very convenient), here are some of our Halifax music ambassadors:

AA WALLACE: A Toronto-lover since 2014, I guarantee he's still wearing a trucker cap with a fishing boat on it as he parties with those coneheads, Tupperwear Remix Party.

BA JOHNSTON: A Hamilton man whose aroma lingers long enough at Gus's that he's pretty much one of us. The Polaris Prize-nominated song and dance man will delight Montreal with jokes about Sherbrooke and fancy French-grade sparklers. His aroma, by the way, is 'donair.' 

CROSSS: If a pack of nomadic but funky demons was the cast of That '70s Show — all of the trippy graphics and weed, none of the inane bullshit. A cross of death metal and synth-wave. 

DAVID R. ELLIOTT: With The Novellas, Elliott is on tour in support of his new record, Sunshine, with hints of early Stones and Dartmouth's finest. Now that's a spicy meatball. 

GIANNA LAUREN: The Ottawa-born Italian Stallion leads an orchestra of harmony and ambient sound explorers with one of the most delicate but strong voices we have in Halifax. 

HAND CREAM: Halifax's Meghan Sivani-Merrigan takes this kick-ass Montréal band on galaxy quests that are too cool for me. Like, if NASA was repopulating Mars, they'd take Hand Cream to the new land and leave me behind. Probably. 

HOMESHAKE: Okay, this one is a stretch. More Halifax-associated than a Halifax band, but Truro's Brad Loughead is the bass player so Homeshake makes the list. Also it's my goddamn list. Also it's a pretty amazing jazz-influenced rock band. It's got me home-shakin' all over. 

MARDEEN: Good ol' Cape Breton bys. Mardeen are great classic songwriters with some Celtic offshoots. Sweet like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but with jam. 

MOONSOCKET: The legend of Chris Thompson returns. 90s-era indie rock from way the hell out in Sambro now. Still Halifax, though. Isn't this whole province basically Halifax now?

MOON: A new lineup that includes Nathan Doucet (drums) and Scott Grundy, Moon's moving in different directions (for ex: they covered "Big Me" several times this summer). 

OLD & WEIRD: Last year's cover feature in The Coast cemented this band as one of Halifax's best, even if not fully appreciated YET. We're going to lose them to the big leagues. 

QUAKER PARENTS: Mark Grundy recently moved himself and his brand of math-inspired, lyrically smart and playful songs to Montréal, so best of luck but remember who you are

REBECCA WEST: These '90s stars reunited at Pro Skates and are now playing Pop Montréal and the Halifax Pop Explosion. In 1995, Allison Outhit wrote the kind of music people want to write now: introspective, meaningful, punk influences, art-rock, dreamy, rad. 

PARTNER: From Sackville, NB (close enough). Lucy Niles (The Mouthbreathers) and Josee Caron debuted at SappyFest and were the talk of the town. This is real rock & roll. 

TASSEOMANCY: The Lightman twins lived here for awhile and Tasseomancy's performance at the OBEY Convention in May was like if Stevie Nicks and Game of Thrones met with instrumental wizards in an enchanted forest of lost love and despair. Beautiful and theatrical. 

WALRUS: Walrus gave me a free t-shirt this summer, size XXL, so I cut off the arms and made it a crop-top. It's extra special since it's a picture of a dude who's not even in the band anymore. Talk about collector's item. They're putting out a new shirt soon. This band rips like an acid trip. 

YEAR OF GLAD: Coast contributor Nick Laugher and his OG homies make some emotionally powerful stuff, like an NYC coffee house (Central Perk?) with the grime of a Mile End alleyway. 

So after checking out ALL THAT, if you have time, here are some of my personal faves:

FREELOVE FENNER: a totally enchanting Montreal three-piece circa Fixture Records: witchy, dark and awesome. Someone please give Michael Brooks Wright a hug for me.

BABYSITTER: Full disclosure, these guys just crashed at my house last week and boy it was fun. I said something like "You guys are a mix between Lemmy and Ted Nugent." That's not totally right, but it ain't wrong either. I've never seen bass-playing like this before. 

NEW FRIES: Okay, prepare yourself for something different. New Fries fucking rocks. 

HAGFACE: Like Babysitter, this Calgary/BC/Montreal combo was face-ripping. Asymmetrical, double vocals, SO MUCH FUCKING POWER, bleach blonde everything. It was so good that I threw up in my own yard later that night. Not even an accident. 

JEF BARBARA: Sometimes also plays in Hand Cream, and just released this cover of "A Perfect Day" by Rexy, totally sexy. The most captivating performer of OBEY Convention 2014. 

There's also HUA LI, TELSTAR DRUGS, TOWANDA, LEE RANALDO and about 200 other amazing bands and if I was going to this festival, I'd hit all of the above and more. I almost puked on the Metro once and I hope — one of these days — I can make that dream come true.

Until then, have a great Pop Montréal. 

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Thursday, September 10, 2015

From the car: a text-interview with Montreal's Babysitter

Playing tonight and tomorrow night in Halifax with Calgary's Hagface

Posted By on Thu, Sep 10, 2015 at 2:51 PM

Can you hear me now?
  • Can you hear me now?

, one of Montreal's gnarliest rock bands, will play in Halifax tonight and tomorrow night and you should almost definitely check them out. Do it for me. Originally from Victoria, B.C., the prolific trio of dudes relocated to the east last year and recently released a seven-inch split on Toronto's Pleasance Records with Calgary's Hagface (side note: last fall, Hagface released one with Shearing Pinx, a band on local Divorce Records. It's all in the family, baby).

Now Babysitter is gearing up to release their self-titled full-length on Montreal's Psychic Handshake on September 16 and singer/guitarist Kristian North says the album is the best expression of the band's music so far. With over a dozen releases, on which some songs appear more than once and in various forms, Babysitter is the hardest jam band you'll probably ever hear.  
While they were driving to Halifax, somewhere between eastern Quebec and New Brunswick, I text-interviewed North yesterday afternoon about the record, TV shows and Halifax diners. You may remember Babysitter from OBEY Convention in 2013 when they played with Pissed Jeans. 

Kristian: Adria, we are on the highway.
Adria: That rules. I'm sending a question.
Kristian: I'm just sitting here.
Adria: I'm a big Freak Heat Waves fan (who are also from Victoria) & some bands in the west have a whole different vibe than the east. Wondering what you've noticed about living in Montreal, if there's like a different cultural aesthetic or something? 
Kristian: FHW spent a chunk of time in MTL, at least Steve (Lind). I'd say the landscape has its inspiration on both of us. MTL is a destination city so it has people from all over. The main difference I see compared 2 Victoria, which is a small place, is more diversity, more scenes.
Kristian: I here of new bands all the time. I can't keep up really.
Kristian: *hear
Adria: Good point about Steve. So you're into "keeping it loose" and playing songs not exactly as recorded and stuff ... Is that how you keep it ~ fresh?
Kristian: We just do whatever we want. It's not planned. Babysitter is best at jamming than practising. Inspiration is there in every band, if you're listening. I think this (new) record sounds like us most. 5 years in, you start sounding like yourself. 
Adria: Then what's the difference between jamming and playing a show?
Kristian: The people there ... hopefully.
Adria: Nice. Okay to start from the top, how did you come together as Babysitter?
Kristian: Andy (Vanier) and I started the band. We were working together and started jamming and recording everything on tape. Aden (Colligne) joined 2 years ago after two other drummers had played with us. He first appears on EYE.
Adria: Can you elaborate on the part about "5 years in" sounding like yourself?
Kristian: I'm pretty into most things we did, right back to tape. There's a lot of different sides to Babysitter, if you go through the back catalogue. I just mean at this point we have our thing pretty figured out, even as we keep experimenting with new genres or whatever, it's always Babysitter.
Adria: Why do you like recording reel to reel and/or to tape?
Kristian: It sounds better. There's an authenticity to it ...
Kristian: We've recorded on basically all mediums though. 
Kristian: Haven't done DAT yet 
Adria: What do you mean by tape being more 'authentic'? 
Kristian: To me it just sounds fuller, I guess, like music sounds in a room. A bit more like a band. Like it blends in this way. It's better to my ear. But I'm not sure sounding good has anything to do with clarity or whatever. 
Adria: I agree with that. And you have buried tones that sound better on tape, I think. It can feel heavy at times, does that reflect your moods at all?
Kristian: Yeah Babysitter is pretty heavy, is that what you mean?
Adria: Well I mean, you're not making bubblegum pop
Adria: I'm curious where the heaviness comes from...

Kristian: I mean, as far as subject goes, I think I'd like people to decide for themselves. I think the new record is sort of dark but also nostalgic. There's no prevalent or constant theme. I think some of the stuff is pretty uplifting also. 
Adria: I agree with that, there are jangly bits. I wanna send some sillies now. 
Kristian: OK Let's do the silly stuff.
Adria: Can you get everyone in the band (in the car) to send me the emoji that best represents them? Mine, for instance, might be the sunglasses dude. 
Kristian: < beer glass >
Kristian: < devil icon >
Kristian: < pink poodle >
Adria: Who is who?
Kristian: Actually I dunno. Aden is sleeping and Andy's driving with headphones on so I just sent you ones I thought were funny. Emoticons creep me out. I don't like the idea of language being replaced with symbols, like those 'thumbs up' people press on the internet, wtf is that? That's some mind control right there. You ever seen on your page when someone posts an article about some war travesty or something and everyone gives it the thumbs up? It's like reaction without thought. That's the conclusion of symbols as communication.
Kristian: Sorry I just ruined the fun question. 
Adria: Haha no that's sick. You're right, it kinda creeps me out too. Like what does the sunglass dude really mean? Okay more fun ones. I'm gonna give you two things and you have to pick your favourite of them.
Adria: 1. Simpsons or King of the Hill?
Kristian: I mean it sorta has to be the Simpsons right.
Kristian: King of the Hill is pretty funny though, I gotta say. 
Adria: Haha I know, I love how Hank says "Bobby."
Adria: Okay 2. Smoked meat sandwich or smoked salmon?

Kristian: Smoked salmon for me. I'm still a BC boy.
Adria: That was a loyalty question for sure. 
Adria: Okay 3. Sabbath or Zeppelin?

Kristian: Easy. Sabbath. 
Adria: Can't agree there but I get it. 
Adria: 4. Would you rather win on Jeopardy or The Price is Right?

Kristian: Um, which one do you get more money?
Adria: Let's say you'd win $25,000 on Jeopardy or prizes worth $25,000 on the Price. Same value, different honour, Trebek VS. Drew Carey. 
Kristian: I guess Jeopardy. Just seems like a bit more of a badge. Price is Right is all sorta luck, isn't it? I didn't know Drew Carey hosted it now. I remember that old dude.
Kristian: He probably died on that show.
Adria: Hahaha Bob Barker. He just retired. But I think he was a boob grabber. 
Adria: Okay last one, if Babysitter could open for any band, who would it be?
Kristian: Maybe Crazy Horse. A man can dream. 
Kristian: Or Sabbath. And Zeppelin would open for us. 
Kristian: I'm just pullin ur chain.
Adria: My Jesus and Mary Chain?
Kristian: Sure. 
Adria: Well I'm stoked to see you in Halifax.
Adria: This was an experiment. 

Kristian: Stoked to see Halifax. Is Mary's diner still there?
Adria: Ohhh yeah. 
Kristian: Sweet.
Kristian: C u at the show!

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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Ghost Tango’s political timbre

A tiny contemporary opera searches for reconciliation

Posted By on Wed, Sep 9, 2015 at 5:56 PM

Janice Jackson and R.L. Thompson in Ghost Tango. - ANDREW DAVID TERRIS
  • Janice Jackson and R.L. Thompson in Ghost Tango.
  • Andrew David Terris

Ghost Tango
September 16-19, 8pm
Sir James Dunn Theatre 6101 University Avenue

Bradyworks and Vocalypse's latest joint production, Ghost Tango, tells the story of a Canadian woman facing a moral dilemma–whether to forgive or exact revenge on the man who tortured her during Argentina's Dirty War after fate finds them run aground on a cruise ship decades later. Ghost Tango stars soprano Janice Jackson and baritone R.L. Thompson as the protagonist and her captor–the only two characters to appear on stage.

The minimal cast is only matched by the minimal musical accompaniment. Forgoing an orchestra, Ghost Tango only employs a single musician, electric guitar virtuoso Tim Brady. Brady describes his looping, electronic score as "large, diverse and dramatic." Jackson describes it as "freeing" to her as a vocalist.

Ghost Tango's librettist Douglas Burnet-Smith is married to an Argentinian and carries a deep interest for Argentinian culture and history, and given "carte blanche" to write an opera, he chose to highlight one of the nation's most violent political conflicts.

Director Anne-Marie Donovan believes that the production's premiere is timely, coming as reconciliation is at the forefront of the world's collective mind. Donovan references both the European refugee crisis and Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Report as current events that the metaphors of the show apply to. "It's really a metaphor for how we move past–process–what's happened to us a society and how we move forward together," Donovan says. "Are we going to look for reconciliation or are we going to carry bitterness and anger or revenge? That's the question the opera asks."

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Country Christmas

Nominee Brett Kissel comes to Halifax for the CCMAs

Posted By on Wed, Sep 9, 2015 at 5:46 PM

“It’s our most exciting day of the year,” says multiple nominee Kissel of the CCMAs. “It’s like Christmas.”
  • “It’s our most exciting day of the year,” says multiple nominee Kissel of the CCMAs. “It’s like Christmas.”

Brett Kissel
Wednesday, September 16, 8pm
Casino Nova Scotia, 1983 Upper Water Street

Halifax turns into a gat-dang rodeo this weekend to host Canadian Country Music Week and the Canadian Country Music Awards, with performances by some of pop-country's biggest stars—like Alberta's own Brett Kissel.

While Halifax seems like an unlikely place to celebrate country music, CCMW president Don Green says this region has one of the richest country histories in the nation: "Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame inductees Anne Murray, Hank Snow, Rita McNeil, Carroll Baker, Brian Ahern and Gene MacLellan were all major Atlantic Canadian forces in the country music industry," says Green.

And young bucks like Kissel are still making international moves. Kissel is nominated for another four awards this year, including Single ("3,2,1"), Video ("Tough People Do"), Interactive Artist and Male Artist of the Year, his highest honour yet. Over the last decade, the young westerner's career has struck oil.

"These nominations mean more to me than I can possibly express," says Kissel from his home in Nashville. "I've been in this business for awhile and I've always wanted to get to this level, so to get this recognition from CCMW is a blessing."

Only 25, Kissel started recording country music from his family's Flat Lake cattle ranch before touring for a decade. By 2013, he was signed to Warner Canada and soon began wrangling Juno and CCMA nominations and awards.

He's says he's excited to return to the little west of the east.

"The Maritimes is a special place," says Kissel, who last played here in November with Brad Paisley. "Halifax is such a vibrant city. You've got so many people from rural communities who work or attend university that come from rural backgrounds and enjoy country music. The awards show is a truly remarkable event that is a one-of-a-kind experience for your average country fan. It's our most exciting day of the year. It's like Christmas."

Kissel says much of his success comes from his younger age—the Interactive Artist of the Year nomination acknowledges savvy social media skills (Kissel loves Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat), which is new to this generation, and his songs about partying and having fun also relate to people his own age.

"People aged 16 to 25 are just starting to discover love and partying and drinking. Country music is the last remaining genre that's great at telling stories, and when it comes to my music, I want it to feel contemporary," he says. His song "Raise Your Glass" blends modern themes with classic country twang. And by living in Nashville, he works with some of the world's best songwriters: "My music has become better just by being in the Music City," he says.

With several events before the award show, CCMW is going to be one heck of a weekend. For nominees like Kissel, who also releases his new album Pick Me Up on September 11. "It's an opportunity to celebrate the amazing year we've had in country music," he says. Better get along, little doggies. | |

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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

'Liberated' Matthew Good plays Halifax, tickets on sale Friday

BC rocker releases new album Chaotic Neutral on September 25

Posted By on Tue, Sep 8, 2015 at 11:22 AM


Matthew Good
, the king of early 2000s Can-rock, is coming to Halifax on his cross-country tour in support of his new album Chaotic Neutral. He will play on December 9 at The Marquee Club. Tickets go on sale on Friday, September 11 (10am) via or by phone. 

From the press release:

In his two decades defining the landscape of the Canadian music scene, Matthew Good has sold nearly a million albums, has been nominated for 20 Juno Awards, winning 4, and is on his way to becoming the best-selling Canadian indie artist of all time. In the early 90s, Matt formed the Matthew Good Band, which would go on to net two Juno Awards for the Canadian rock classic, Beautiful Midnight before disbanding in 2002. Since 2003, Matt has been on his own through seven solo albums, surviving missed diagnoses and hospitalizations, a return to indie status, and a sea change in the music industry.

Chaotic Neutral, scheduled for release on September 25, is available now for pre-order digitally through iTunes, on CD and vinyl through On this album Matt handed over the reins to his long-time producer Warne Livesey. He brought in a handful of notables including Holly McNarland, Bones Hillman (Midnight Oil), Blake Manning, Anthony Wright, Stu Cameron and Sam Goldberg Jr. (Broken Social Scene). Matt explains, “The process for this one was great. I got to say, ‘I’m just going to be the artist on this thing,’ which I found massively liberating.”  

Last month, Good also released a video for "All You Sons and Daughters" from Chaotic Neutral, directed by Halifax's own recent MTV Video Music Award winner Andy Hines. 

For more tour dates, visit 

Hello time bomb, am I right? 

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Friday, September 4, 2015

Photos: Rebecca West at Pro Skates

You'd never know that 20 years have passed for 90s Halifax band

Posted By on Fri, Sep 4, 2015 at 2:45 PM

  • Chris Sweet

Last night at Pro Skateboards & Surfboards, 90s-era Halifax band Rebecca West reunited for a sick set in anticipation of the band's performance at Pop Montreal later this month.

Fronted by Allison Outhit, with Lukas Pearse on bass and Dale Hussey on drums, Rebecca West played from both Cinnamon Toast Records albums, including the amazing jam "State of Grace," as well as some "new old songs," Outhit joked. Over 20 years have passed since these songs were written but they've aged incredibly well. With Sloan-esque pop melodies, punk rock interludes and Outhit's haunting spoken vocals and clever wordplay, Rebecca West could pass for a contemporary rock band. In essence, they are one. The band all hugged at the end and Outhit mentioned they'll be reissuing tracks soon. Keep your ears peeled for more upcoming shows. 

Photos by Chris Sweet. 

  • Chris Sweet

  • Chris Sweet

  • Chris Sweet

Allison Outhit (Rebecca West) - CHRIS SWEET
  • Allison Outhit (Rebecca West)
  • Chris Sweet

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