I’ve seen the all-caps name around for a while, TONSTARTSSBANDHT was one of those bands that ‘weirder’ Canadian music outlets like Offerings (RIP) and Weird Canada would write about. Now their bandcamp says they’re based in New York, but I guess they were from Montreal or one of them’s still there or something. Maybe they felt New York would be more open to their weird brand of reverby jamedelica, though Montreal’s known for being pretty open-minded to cool stuff, so I don’t know.
I feel like maybe I’d heard them at some point and wasn’t into it, but Brennon McCracken‘s post on Portals about their new album + the track he posted definitely got me to reconsider my stance on them: the shit off the new album Overseas sounds boss. It’s available as a PWYC dl so you don’t hesitate to go in for the full thing if you’re feeling it.
If you missed the preview post, Horror Fest took place this year on July 5th and 6th at the Hot Docs Bloor Cinema. It was second annual Lost Episode Festival Toronto film festival. And I was lucky enough to be able to cover it, and it was pretty cool.
The festival consisted of four screenings, of which three, the films Anna, Patrick, and Naked Zombie Girl were shown on Saturday, with the last screening, the 50 Hour Film Competition, being shown on Sunday.
Kicking off the festival, Anna, is a film about an agent named John Washington (Mark Strong) working for agency called Mindscape (this was also the working title for the film) that uses people with psychic ability to see into the memories of others – in a way similar to how people entered others’ dreams in Inception – in order to find information that can then be used to solve crimes or be of use in criminal trials. Washington, low on cash and reeling from the recent death of his wife, hasn’t been working much lately, so he comes into his boss Sebastien’s (Brian Cox) office insistently looking for a gig. Sebastien gives him an assignment: the ‘gifted’ daughter of a family he’s been friend’s with for a long time is going through a rough time and is refusing to eat. Go in and find out what the problem is using the memory probing stuff, get her to eat. Washington reluctantly takes the job and begins memory sessions with the intelligent, oddly seductive Anna (Taisa Farmiga), quickly discovering there’s a lot of stuff going on here that’s not right or as it seems.
Though the film works with an interesting premise and Strong and Farmiga are clearly exceptional actors, the script is shockingly bad, and the direction doesn’t manage to deal with it properly. There are a lot of “WTF???” moments not because of plot twists, but because some of things characters say are so stupid or redundant, or things that were set up as big plot points or ‘reveals’ are actually totally pointless. At one point Anna’s mother tells Washington something like, “we haven’t let her go back to school because she was cutting herself. Now we’ve taken out all of the sharp objects out of her room in order to protect her,” to which he responds, “from what?” as if this weren’t the most obvious thing in the world. But then we wouldn’t get the groan-worthy dramatic “from herself(!),” reply.
Luckily the next film, the Australian supernatural horror Patrick: Evil Awakens, was better.
You’re Next‘s incredible Ozzie lead Sharni Vinson stars as Kathy, a woman who has apparently left her husband and taken a job as a nurse at a remote psychiatric hospital for comatose patients. Though warned that Matron Cassidy (Rachel Griffiths) and her father, Roget (Charles Dance), the head doctor, are breaking new ground in their treatment of comatose patients and that she should be prepared to witness some unusual things, she quickly realizes some things going on in the hospital are considerably more unusual than she could ever have imagined. Namely one patient, the handsome young Patrick (Jackson Gallagher), who not only is not comatose, but telekinetic. At first Kathy tries to help Patrick, save him from Doctor Roget’s experiments that she thinks are killing him, but Kathy soon learns that she is the one who needs saving from the obsessive Patrick.
While a couple points of the movie didn’t make sense and some loose ends were left untended at the end, Patrick: Evil Awakens is for the most part a well-acted, written directed, sharp and clever supernatural thriller. If you missed the screening, you can catch it on iTunes and Youtube where it’s available for purchase or rental. And if you’re looking for something to watch late at night to make you yell at the screen, you could do a lot worse.
Unfortunately I missed Naked Zombie Girl due to its late screening time, but I caught the 50 Hour Film Competition yesterday afternoon and it was pretty enjoyable. The shtick of the whole thing was that they had a bunch of filmmaking teams, each had 50 hours to make a short horror film from scratch, the best entries would win awards and prizes.
As one would expect, some of these films were great, while others were basically just dumb excuses for people to press record on their cameras (or iphones). The best were, unsurprisingly, the ones that went for a comedic angle. The Stagette stands out in memory for its great twist ending in which the local serial killer – who’s been mistaken for a hired male stripper – ends up getting scared off by the bitchy girl at the party.
Though the festival was relatively sparse compared to something like Toronto After Dark, I enjoyed it a lot and appreciated being able to cover it. Hopefully next year’s is even bigger and better.
Even though I just got back from a long road trip across the states, I’m excited for one last road trip before I’m off to law school in the fall. First weekend of August I’ll be heading to Sackville, New Brunswick for the annual Sappyfest music festival, which I will covering. It will be my first trip to the Eastern part of our great country since I moved back to Toronto after finishing my first year at the University of King’s College in Halifax. I’m excited – the East coast is a little too quiet for me to live in, but it’s got a lot of charm, and it’s beautiful.
Sappyfest this year has a great lineup. Unsurprisingly it’s got a couple East coast bands and artists (Julie Doiron, Cousins), a couple from other places around the country (Montreal’s Freelove Fenner, Kingston’s PS I Love You, Vancouver’s Rose Melberg (of The Softies, Tiger Trap)), and of course The Constantines. I think it’s gonna be a party, plus I’ve heard or read good things about the fest for a while, and Colin Medley‘s wonderful short doc This Is Now Here, about the Stereophonic Festival and the music scene in Sackville, made me feel like it was about time I went back East after all this time.
When I lived in Halifax it had a pretty cool music scene, but I feel like it’s only gotten better since I’ve left, or at least that’s what I hear online seems to suggest. There’s also been some cool stuff coming out of places around the region. Most people don’t really know about the sounds they’re making there if they don’t live there, and definitely not if they live outside of Canada, but yeah, it’s good. I made this little mix of some of my favourite bands from the East coast. Some of it’s older, some of it’s newer, a lot of it is obscure, but all of it is great, or at least I think so.
(BTW – if you live in Sackville and want to host the writer of this blog you love so much while he is in your city, let me know, cuz I need somewhere to stay while I’m there…)
Whenever I go on a trip, I try to pick up some cool stuff from wherever I visit, whether its zines or comics or records or whatever. I want something local or just plain weird that I couldn’t just find everywhere. I recently took a two month trip across America, and in almost every city I tried to get something little to have as a keepsake. It could be just a sticker from the Third Man Store in Nashville, or a fridge magnet from the Sub Pop store in the Seattle airport, but I just wanted something that I could look at or listen to later and be like, “I remember where I got that.”
In almost every city we went to I tried to hit up the record store(s) to see if anything looked too cool to pass up on. If I were a less restrained person I would have bought wayyyy more shit, but I limited myself to just a couple picks that were reasonably priced. Here are the unique records and tapes I picked up and the fairly average stories behind them, presented in chronological order of when I bought them.
Plains – Birthday Island (cassette)
The kind of hipster part of Nashville is East Nashville, which is luckily where we were staying at a nice couple’s house via Airbnb. We didn’t even plan it like that, it just worked out that way. There was a little strip of store nearby with a vegan restaurant and clothing stores and a little records and guitar shop. I saw this tape on the wall for $4 and, caught by the art and colours, asked what it sounded like. The guy in the store told me it was some dude in Alabama and it was sort of ‘party rock’ or something. It is, but it’s off kilter and cool and goofy ‘party rock’.
Long Legged Woman – Nobody Knows This Is Nowhere (LP)
Athens, Georgia is known for having a great music scene. It started back in the 80s with REM and the B-52s and continues to this day with bands like Neutral Milk Hotel and Of Montreal. Going through the locals section at legendary record store Wuxtry Records – where Michael Stipe and Peter Buck apparently met and talked about music – I came across this beautiful screen printed cardboard jacket. I checked out the band online and loved the dirty, feral sound – that actually is pretty well matched by the cover – so I picked it up for $15.
Natural Blonde – S/T (cassette)
This is a really cool little EP I picked up at New Orleans’ Euclid Records, I great store that actually was located on the street we were staying on. It’s kind of hazey, 90s-ish indie rock. It was also just $4 at the store.
Portland Bike Ensemble – S/T (LP)
I found this album in a cool record store in San Francisco, the name of which I forget. I was actually leaning towards a collection of old Algerian pop songs that the guy was playing in the store, but as the record played on, I felt it got too shmaltzy and decided I didn’t want it. I saw this crazy cover and thought it looked interesting. I also saw that it was put out by Olde English Spelling Bee, which I knew to be a pretty cool label. It was also only $10. I thought it was going to be some cool group from Portland playing weird, interesting, Portland-y songs, maybe not unlike Oregon Bike Trails, but when I took the record back to where we staying and was able to hear some of it (now that I had access to Wi-Fi on my phone), I realized this was actually a group that played bicycles as instruments. Not even in like a cool Blue Man Group, actually-making-music way, but in a ridiculously Portlandia-tastic way, in which they just bang on bicycles and record the sounds as some ‘avant garde’ shit. I actually wanted to return it and get something else, but I just didn’t have time. So now if I’m ever chilling and want to hear the sounds of weird people banging on bicycles, I have this record to satisfy that desire.
Various – Black Plastic Singing Flats Volume II (cassette)
Something about San Francisco didn’t sit right with me, so my second day in the Bay Area I went to explore Oakland, which I heard is kind of like the Brooklyn to San Fran’s Manhattan (and this is sort of true, but not totally). I actually really liked Oakland and had a better time there than in San Fran, and while I was there I checked out another great record store called Jam Econo Records. They had a big cassette rack on the wall and the cover of this caught my eye. I asked if I could listen to it and luckily the store had a stereo system with headphones where you could ‘try before you buy’. This 23-song cassette is full of awesome Asian pop songs from the 60s and maybe 70s, featuring badass orchestras and fuzz guitar and a lot of great combinations of Asian and Western sounds of the time. I listened to a couple songs and loved almost every one, I can’t wait to listen to the whole thing (but I need to buy a new cassette player first).
(Note: This is off volume 1 of the Black Plastic Singing Flats comps, but this is what volume II sounds like for the most part too. I couldn’t find any of volume II online.)
Various – Those Shocking Shaking Days (LP)
I saw this at a record store in Olympia. It’s a compilation of hard, psychedelic, progressive rock and funk from Indonesia in the 70s. I’ve been interested in weird international music for a while now, and they were having a sale on vinyl compilations, so even though this was the second most expensive record purchase of the trip at $24, it was marked down from around $30 (they’re usually pretty expensive) making it a relatively good deal. It’s a triple-disc set with a detailed booklet about the songs, the artists, and the politically turbulent times in which the music was made. Even a cursory listen to what’s on YouTube from it will tell you that it’s excellent. Perhaps the best purchase of the trip.
Roachclip – Discovery Park (LP)
We were only in Detroit for a couple hours, but luckily there was a record store close to the Greyhound station, so I was able to walk over and check out some local records there while we waited for our bus back to Toronto. Turns out that even though the city is basically dead and decrepit, the Detroit music scene, which has been responsible for so many great things over the years, from Motown to The MC5 to Eminem and The White Stripes, is still going strong. I asked them to put on a couple local tapes and records for me and I liked all of them, but eventually decided to go with this one, which had a real ramshackle charm and was just $12. The guy in the store, before playing the record for me, told me it sounded kind of like the Velvet Underground and that would be a correct comparison. It’s got that kind of chugginess to it, but it’s very loose and cool and fun.
I actually have a couple more tapes and another record that I got for free or whatever, but I’m not sure if they’re interesting enough to even write about. I did pick up the new My Bloody Valentine album used (somehow) but in perfect condition in Seattle for $25 (compared to the going price of $39.99 new everywhere) but everyone knows about that one, no point writing more about it. So yeah, it was a great trip, good times, good food, good people, and some very good music
This weekend, Gold Soundz will be covering the Lost Episode Festival Toronto presents Horror Fest at the Hot Docs Bloor Cinema, taking place Saturday and Sunday July 5th and 6th.
Saturday’s film lineup includes the exclusive Canadian theatrical premiers of Anna, Patrick, and the short Naked Zombie Girl, along with a number of other shorts and horror-themed Nerd Girl Burlesque.
Sunday has just one event, which is the screening of finalist films from the 50 Hour Film Competition, in which filmmakers had just 50 hours to create a short film to compete.
You can check out the Facebook event here. Tickets are $10 per event, with all-access passes available for $25.
I feel like some voices wear glasses. They have that skinny, slightly nasally quality that just fits that kind of image. Though for all I know, the lead dude in Vancouver indie pop-punk types Woolworm might be a 6’4 beefcake whose voice just comes unexpectedly out of just such a vessel. He’s probably not though. And a casual Google image search proves me right…
The band recently released a split 7″ on Debt Offensive Records with Calgary’s raucous Grown-Ups, and the whole thing is cool, but I definitely found myself drawn to Woolworm‘s tight hooks a lot more. (via Weird Canada)
Alone Forever: The Singles Collection is a collection of short, witty comics by Boston-based comic artist Liz Prince. The usually page-long strips are usually a quirky rumination on her romantic (mis)adventures as she tries to find a cool, bearded boyfriend and encounters numerous obstacles along the way. Otherwise they’re bittersweet ruminations on being a lonely little punk girl.
I found this collection in a cool little comic store in Boston, near the BU campus, and basically found it too adorable to not buy. Drawn with charming simplicity, the visuals, in addition to the romance and music nerd-ness of the whole thing reminded me of the vibe of our lonely, music-loving romantic comic hero, Toronto’s Scott Pilgrim.
Check out Prince’s website (linked to above and here) to see some of her work. She has a number of collections and her work has appeared in numerous anthologies and stuff like that.
Jodorowsky’s latest film, The Dance Of Reality, really isn’t much different from the rest of his best-known films, especially The Holy Mountain. A lot of the trademarks of Jodorowsky are present in abundance: deformed and disfigured people, midgets, unpleasant nudity, long tangents away from the main narrative of the film, etc. This isn’t a problem though, as no one makes films like Jodorowsky, and he doesn’t have that many, so each quality addition to his oeuvre is a welcome one.
Though the film is supposed to be autobiographical, and indeed it does focus a lot on the childhood of the young Jodorowsky and what it was like to grow up as a Chilean Jew back in the day, the main focus of the film is on Jodorowsky’s father. A diehard communist of Jewish-Ukrainian origin, Jaime Jodorowsky (played by Brontis Jodorowsky) dresses like Stalin and keeps a picture of the Soviet dictator on the wall in his store. He values strength above all, and tries to instil this and the ability to withstand pain ‘like a man’ in his young son, Alejandro. At the same time, with his communist friends, and his buxom, operatic wife, he behaves as a dictator with an iron will and hand.
Like the main characters of El Topo and The Holy Mountain, Jaime will find himself whisked along on a long, strange journey, after a failed attempt on the life of Chilean dictator, Ibanez. But ultimately, his journey and the encounters he has with the characters he meets along the way will soften his heart, and he will return to his family a changed and better man.
In Jodorowsky’s not-so-subtle, but strange and strangely beautiful way, he illustrates the beauty of the human spirit in his portrait of a brusque man who finds himself aided in his quest by kind but unfortunate people, like the horse groomer whose death and replacement won’t even be noticed by his master; the female midget who loves him and takes care of him, waiting until the day his memory returns and he must leave her, never to be loved again; and the righteous, religious old man who works to make chairs for the church and takes him in despite his ‘deformity’ and gives him work, food and shelter.
As with all Jodorowsky’s films, The Dance Of Reality requires a bit of patience to sit through the director’s indulgences and beloved disturbing imagery, but if you know Jodorowsky you already know that. What you get in return is a visually and spiritually bountiful film experience that reminds one, like only Jodorowsky can, that we are all human and we all need to be loved, no matter how weird we look on the outside or the in.