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"The Best of 2012: Saskatchewan's Music Scene"


CHRIS MORIN DECEMBER 26, 2012

New bands, new releases and what to look forward to in early 2013

Editor’s Note – We tried to get everything, but the sad reality about posting lists is that something/someone invariably gets overlooked. Consider this an advanced apology to anything we missed this year, but do please tell us about it!

Highlights:



Factor aka Graham Murawsky has had one hell of a year. In addition to working with some huge names in hip-hop, including Awol One, Moka Only, Xzibit, Kool Keith, Aesop Rock and Buck65, Factor released an album with Myka 9 that totally slays. Oh yeah, and then they toured Japan. On a more local level, Factor’s headlining set at this year’s Ness Creek Festival was some total next level shit.

It’s fitting that 2012 was a huge year for local doomsayers Shooting Guns, especially considering they are something of a musical apocalypse onstage. In addition to getting national coverage via the Polaris Prize long list for their excellent album Born To Deal in Magic 1952-1976, the group reportedly melted faces during their set at Halifax Pop Explosion. Additionally, the group also released two split 7”’s, one with Edmonton’s Krang and Nottingham UK’s Cult of Dom Keller. And they were even featured in the Star Phoenix newspaper! Imagine!

The Sheepdogs continued their reign as Saskatoon’s kings of retro rock by winning three Juno awards, releasing their self-titled full-length on a major label and touring with John fucking Fogerty. Amazingly, they also had a documentary made about them, which will be premiering in early 2013. Not too shabby.

The Bloodstains Across the Prairies 7” vinyl compilation, which showcased several Saskatoon bands, was released by Mammoth Cave Records. Featuring local groups such as Feral Children, Haunted Souls, Auld Beak and The Eyebats, as well as a handful of bands from Winnipeg and Manitoba, it was amazing to see some local talent break out of the province via a fairly prominent underground label.

Saskatoon got some new venues in 2012. Lepps took over Walkers and has since been hosting plenty of ripping metal and punk shows. Vangelis became a thing and is now a regular stop for touring groups on the indie circuit.

Beaumont Records also opened up in the Riversdale area along with the Underground Cafe, serving up records, lattes and hosting the occasional instore banger.



Bummer Summer

Saskatoon lost some great bands this year. Reform Party packed it in after releasing their second EP and then losing their drummer. Total bummer considering that the band should have toured to Toronto’s NXNE this summer.



Rock freaks Breaker Breaker similarly called it a day shortly after playing a blistering set at this year’s MoSo Fest. Apparently they had been working on some recordings as well, which Ominocity officially encourages them to release.

Feral Children’s front man Ryan Davidson made an announcement a while ago on Facebook that the band was officially done. Total groin punch considering that their last EP SunSon was kind of amazing.

Regina’s Chronobot had a bunch of their gear stolen after their van was broken into in Saskatoon back in October. Amazingly, thanks to some tips from diligent gear shoppers and some detective work from the police, the band managed to recover most of their stolen equipment.

Notable Releases of 2012

Andy Shauf’s full-length album The Bearer of Bad News broke our hearts in a serious way. Why are you so sad Andy Shauf?

Rah Rah’s The Poet’s Dead was a monumental release for a Regina band renowned for their live show. Like our review states: “Who doesn’t love bubbles and confetti being bukkake’d in their faces at a live concert?”

The Karpinka Brothers will likely forever hold the title as Saskatoon’s nicest band, and their album There’s A Light is some pretty stuff. Catch them headlining New Years Eve at Vangelis.

This one caught us a bit by surprise, but Ryan Stinson’s deluxe EP Futura is an interesting mash-up of electronica soundscapes and hip-hop styling’s, and features local talents Charly Hustle and Kay the Aquanaut.



Speaking of which, Kay the Aquanaut dropped an EP entitled Laika / Pangaean Drift as a free download. The album features contributors Factor and AWOL One.

Other cool shit that tickled our ears in 2012:
John Antoniuk – Always With You
Myles and the Blanks – Living and Dying in the Prairies
Weak Ends – Bridges
Vulture Kult – Don’t Let Rock and Roll Ruin Your Life

New Local Bands of 2012

I haven’t heard much from them since their show way back in February, but Dirt put on one hell of a show and then more or less disappeared into the ether. Or else they changed their name to something less… sucky. For those not in the know, the three-piece play angular, bass-heavy gut rock not unlike that of Nomeansno.

Close Talker have been impressing the pants off of audiences since coming together earlier this year. I imagine these guys are goin - Ominocity


"Gallows, Barnburner, Kennedy, Weak Ends, Filthy Senoritas: Review"

Saskatoon might not be playing host to the upcoming Alexisonfire reunion tour but we did get Gallows.

Hailing from across the pond, Watford, England’s Gallows, who feature ex-Alexisonfire member Wade MacNeil on lead vocals, wasted no time in jumping off stage and tearing up the dance floor at Louis’ Pub, Monday, Nov. 19. Or maybe it was everyone else. Except for the bassist and drummer, who were left behind on stage and looked a little lonely. Poor little guys.

Their first time in Saskatoon, the five-piece kicked, picked and floorpunched through a ferocious set of knuckle-y punk rock that left everyone sweaty and satisfied.

Not bad for a first date, but an encore (AKA a kiss goodbye) would have been the polite thing to do.

Sadly, I missed openers Filthy Senoritas – total bummer except I did get a CD so that’s totally a thing (look forward to a review this week). Up next were local baby faces Weak Ends, who have progressed immensely over the past year. Despite looking a little stiff on stage, the four-piece ripped through some well-written tunes.

Montreal’s Kennedys were similarly impressive. I’m always intrigued by bands made up of dudes who look like they shouldn’t be in a band with each other. Regardless, the group absolutely slayed in the vein of a thrashier, Bronx-style punk/hardcore.

Barnburner took the stage next, looking like a nappy pack of badgers amidst a collective wave of greaser hair. Although they played a little long for my tastes – I can’t receive an old fashioned bro-thrash-metal bludgeoning like I used to – they did rip out the classic tune ‘Holy Smokes’!

Holy smokes indeed! - Ominocity


"Off the Ice and Into the Pit"

...

Luke Brisebois, 25, grew up playing elite hockey and has only recently had the opportunity to focus on music.

Brisebois played midget AAA hockey with the Saskatoon Blazers and proved he was one of the top players in the country: He was selected to represent Western Canada at the 2004 under-17 World Hockey Challenge.

He spent three seasons in Wilcox, Sask. playing junior hockey with the Notre Dame Hounds before moving to Purchase, N.Y. in 2007 to play for the Manhattanville Valiants in the NCAA.

Brisebois said he played the best hockey he’s ever played with the Valiants but that the school wasn’t what he was looking for academically.

“I wanted to take engineering and they didn’t have it. I found of all the courses I was in I was more interested in science and math, and it was a liberal arts school.”

He decided to move back to Saskatoon to pursue an engineering degree after only one year with the Valiants.

“I love the game of hockey and I’ve made a lot of my lifelong friends from it,” Brisebois said, but “I just wanted to continue my education and hockey wasn’t really going to jive anymore.”

Brisebois approached Dan Smolinski only a few months after he decided to stop playing hockey competitively.

“Even when I was playing hockey, there was a group of us, we were always into punk rock and heavier music,” Brisebois said, but “I never really pictured myself playing until I finally decided to start Lady Deathstryke with Dan.”

Brisebois currently plays bass in both Lady Deathstryke and another local punk group, Weak Ends.

Colin McGuirk McNeil, the drummer for Weak Ends, said that Brisebois was the driving force behind his own involvement in the group.

Brisebois asked McGuirk McNeil three times to join the group, then called Memphis Belle, but McGuirk McNeil was busy with other projects. When Memphis Belle were struggling to find a drummer only one week before a gig, McGuirk McNeil agreed to fill in.

“I was a little skeptical in the beginning but I gave it a try, did a fill-in show and was pretty comfortable with it,” McGuirk McNeil said. “I liked what they were doing so we changed the band name and threw out a bunch of new songs.”

Brisebois said even though Weak Ends have been together for less than a year, they have been working hard to play as much as possible.

“We toured out to Montreal this spring. We played between 10 and 12 shows on tour and then we’ve obviously played a lot of local shows,” he said. “I’m just lucky even to be able to play music, and to be able to play music where someone will actually come and listen to you is pretty amazing.”

Weak Ends will open for hardcore heavyweights Gallows at Louis’ on Nov. 19. Gallows, based out of Watford, England, are fronted by former Alexisonfire guitarist and vocalist Wade MacNeil.
- The Sheaf


"Off the Ice and Into the Pit"

...

Luke Brisebois, 25, grew up playing elite hockey and has only recently had the opportunity to focus on music.

Brisebois played midget AAA hockey with the Saskatoon Blazers and proved he was one of the top players in the country: He was selected to represent Western Canada at the 2004 under-17 World Hockey Challenge.

He spent three seasons in Wilcox, Sask. playing junior hockey with the Notre Dame Hounds before moving to Purchase, N.Y. in 2007 to play for the Manhattanville Valiants in the NCAA.

Brisebois said he played the best hockey he’s ever played with the Valiants but that the school wasn’t what he was looking for academically.

“I wanted to take engineering and they didn’t have it. I found of all the courses I was in I was more interested in science and math, and it was a liberal arts school.”

He decided to move back to Saskatoon to pursue an engineering degree after only one year with the Valiants.

“I love the game of hockey and I’ve made a lot of my lifelong friends from it,” Brisebois said, but “I just wanted to continue my education and hockey wasn’t really going to jive anymore.”

Brisebois approached Dan Smolinski only a few months after he decided to stop playing hockey competitively.

“Even when I was playing hockey, there was a group of us, we were always into punk rock and heavier music,” Brisebois said, but “I never really pictured myself playing until I finally decided to start Lady Deathstryke with Dan.”

Brisebois currently plays bass in both Lady Deathstryke and another local punk group, Weak Ends.

Colin McGuirk McNeil, the drummer for Weak Ends, said that Brisebois was the driving force behind his own involvement in the group.

Brisebois asked McGuirk McNeil three times to join the group, then called Memphis Belle, but McGuirk McNeil was busy with other projects. When Memphis Belle were struggling to find a drummer only one week before a gig, McGuirk McNeil agreed to fill in.

“I was a little skeptical in the beginning but I gave it a try, did a fill-in show and was pretty comfortable with it,” McGuirk McNeil said. “I liked what they were doing so we changed the band name and threw out a bunch of new songs.”

Brisebois said even though Weak Ends have been together for less than a year, they have been working hard to play as much as possible.

“We toured out to Montreal this spring. We played between 10 and 12 shows on tour and then we’ve obviously played a lot of local shows,” he said. “I’m just lucky even to be able to play music, and to be able to play music where someone will actually come and listen to you is pretty amazing.”

Weak Ends will open for hardcore heavyweights Gallows at Louis’ on Nov. 19. Gallows, based out of Watford, England, are fronted by former Alexisonfire guitarist and vocalist Wade MacNeil.
- The Sheaf


"Weak Ends "Bridges": Review"

Saskatoon’s Weak Ends, a four-piece hardcore band, have released an eight song cassette entitled Bridges. Concurrently, the group are hitting the road for an eastern cross-Canada tour.



This previous Monday, June 4, after playing a solid crop of shows over the weekend (hyuk!), including MazzFest, the group played a well-received set at Lydias’ Metal Monday, along with locals Soul Mates, Grimace and the Filthy Senoritas.

Having attended live shows at the venue since 1998, I can safely say that I have never seen a full-on raging hardcore show at Lydias. Maybe it was the ravenous crowd or the fact that punk typically has no place on that particular stage, but it was definitely one for the ages.

Weak Ends barreled out with plenty of energy, with front man Morgan Billard sounding like a younger, spryer Keith Morris – think early Black Flag/Circle Jerks (come to think of it, he sort of looks like him too… uncanny!). However, Weak Ends lean more towards hardcore than punk, billowing through song after song with the anger of a teenage buffalo.

Concurrently, their cassette release, entitled Bridges, similarly captures a raging vibe that doesn’t take itself too seriously. If put on repeat, this is the punk rock soundtrack to stoop jams and day drunk BBQs.

June 7th – Winnipeg, MB @ Ozzy’s w/ Dead Ranch & Guests
June 9th – Windsor, ON @ Digby w/ Dead Weight / Flavoured Scalps / Valerie Page
June 11th – Montreal, QB @ Cafe Chaos w/ Rat Patrol / Crossbones
June 16th – Toronto, ON @ 460 w/ Total Trash
June 18th – London, ON @ TBA w/ Battle Pope / The Syndrome / Hated Cop
June 20th – Sault Ste. Marie, ON @ Odd Fellows Hall w/ Fright Light / Shit Liver / The Bear Hunters / Redundant
- Ominocity


"Weak Ends "Bridges": Review"

Saskatoon’s Weak Ends, a four-piece hardcore band, have released an eight song cassette entitled Bridges. Concurrently, the group are hitting the road for an eastern cross-Canada tour.



This previous Monday, June 4, after playing a solid crop of shows over the weekend (hyuk!), including MazzFest, the group played a well-received set at Lydias’ Metal Monday, along with locals Soul Mates, Grimace and the Filthy Senoritas.

Having attended live shows at the venue since 1998, I can safely say that I have never seen a full-on raging hardcore show at Lydias. Maybe it was the ravenous crowd or the fact that punk typically has no place on that particular stage, but it was definitely one for the ages.

Weak Ends barreled out with plenty of energy, with front man Morgan Billard sounding like a younger, spryer Keith Morris – think early Black Flag/Circle Jerks (come to think of it, he sort of looks like him too… uncanny!). However, Weak Ends lean more towards hardcore than punk, billowing through song after song with the anger of a teenage buffalo.

Concurrently, their cassette release, entitled Bridges, similarly captures a raging vibe that doesn’t take itself too seriously. If put on repeat, this is the punk rock soundtrack to stoop jams and day drunk BBQs.

June 7th – Winnipeg, MB @ Ozzy’s w/ Dead Ranch & Guests
June 9th – Windsor, ON @ Digby w/ Dead Weight / Flavoured Scalps / Valerie Page
June 11th – Montreal, QB @ Cafe Chaos w/ Rat Patrol / Crossbones
June 16th – Toronto, ON @ 460 w/ Total Trash
June 18th – London, ON @ TBA w/ Battle Pope / The Syndrome / Hated Cop
June 20th – Sault Ste. Marie, ON @ Odd Fellows Hall w/ Fright Light / Shit Liver / The Bear Hunters / Redundant
- Ominocity


Discography

Bridges EP - Release Spring 2012

Untitled LP - Release Coming Spring 2013

Photos

Bio

The term "crazier things have happened" has gotten our band far. Over 8,000 Km, 10 cities and counting. When we first came together in 2011, much of what you could call the "punk" scene in Saskatoon seemed to be in hibernation. For four motivated individuals, this was a prime situation to be in. We wanted to hear the style of stripped down straightforward punk rock that we grew up on, so we figured we would make it ourselves and have a whole mess of fun in the process. We filled the beer fridge and fell into a drunken spell of writing and jamming inside a little room in Saskatoon's infamous Sweatlodge.

In the early months of 2012, we recorded an 8 song EP with good friend Barrett Ross, and planned a three week tour of Eastern Canada to coincide with our application to play the NxNE festival. We were shortlisted for the festival, but the tour was regardless an immense success for us, and was a great time spent playing different cities and meeting new friends along the way. We hope 2013 boasts even more for us as we prepare to put out our first full length LP and hit the road once again as the country thaws out.
Weak Ends hardcore punk.