Maddy Cristall

Levitation Vancouver 2016- The Highlights

 

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Levitation Vancouver feels more like a state of mind than a festival that you attend. It is a thrilling, exciting, slightly terrifying and mind altering explosion of psych rock , shoe gaze,trip-hop, electronica and metal. Various facets of the human condition are prevalent during this three-day, four night festival that takes place in the downtown core/underbelly of the ghetto in Vancouver. This is Levitation Vancouver’s second birthday; it is a lovechild of Levitation Austin and Timbre Concerts. Despite there being some serious hiccups before the event regarding the day time portion of the festival being moved from the beautiful and open Stanley Park to the confided walls of Commodore Ballroom, the festival was smooth as velvet. It certainly helped that the Commodore is one of the best looking and sounding venues in Western Canada. The lineup this year was exceptional and completely well suited to the nature of the festival. This included: Flying Lotus, oF Montreal, The Growlers, Tycho, Shabazz Palaces, White Lung, Holy F, Suuns and many more authentic, unapologetic and face numbing bands. The following is a list of my personal highlights from this brain-bending weekend.

oF Montreal

oF (yes, that spelling is intentional) Montreal played on Friday night in between Tycho and Fidlar at the Commodore Ballroom. The concert took place during the witching hour of somewhere between 8-9 P.M, it’s the end of the day and the beginning of the night and we seldom get our minds blown during this hour. There was something almost unsettlingly exciting about watching the five piece band from Georgia all dressed like stylish Muppets set up their stage. It is clear they come from a completely different universe; the same one the Flaming Lips and Peaches are probably from. Lead singer Kevin Barnes has a stage presence that could make buildings collapse and people faint. The bustling yet respectful audience were transfixed for the entirely of this generous concert. The band put every last speckle of their bizarre and wonderful energy into this performance. This was most notable with keyboard player Jojo Glidewell, who gracefully attacked his instrument with intense dominion that was impossible to ignore. Their set was glamorous yet lo-fi, grandiose yet gentle and aesthetically refined yet messy. It was everything the audience needed to either conclude their day at the festival or boost them into the evening or many more performances.

Holy Fuck

Holy F closed the stage at the Rickshaw on Friday night. The band is notably understated aesthetically, they all look and act like regular dudes from Nova Scotia and Ontario yet make music that is wildly contentious and innovative. However, they have managed to reach some serious musical peaks such as getting nominated for both a Juno and a Polaris, toured with MIA and were late Lou Reed’s  alleged favourite band. They are an electro-acoustic noise rock band, which is refreshing to witness this day in age with the abundance of laptops present at concerts. They make rich sonic soundscapes that visit various genres. They orchestrate powerful and haunting concerts and this one was particularly strong. The combination of the concert-taking place at the Rickshaw, which lends itself so well to complex music along with the stunning visuals, made this impeccable performance quite remarkable.

Flying Lotus

Steve Ellison aka Flying Lotus is a experimental electronic musician extraordinaire. He is impossibly talented in a highly misunderstood (especially by yours truly) and misrepresented (iPod addicts) genre but he is truly one of the finest in the field. The nephew of Alice Coltrane and life long jazz fan has a unique approach to sound manipulation. His set finalized the last show at the Commodore on Saturday night, which made this already highly anticipated performance even more exhilarating. The man puts on one hell of a show, it’s as if we are his puppets that he is controlling with his insanely fast paced fingers. Puppets that are extremely happy and in constant awe of his demi-god like potency dancing like wild to the soundscapes he creates in front of us.Moreover,his performances are more like magic shows than concerts. This performance was multifaceted and pulled from his early work to latest material; this lent itself generously to both burning fans and newcomers to his music. Additionally, the visuals were wildly beautiful and suited intuitively to the tone of his set. He had the audience essentially petting the ground quietly while taking deep breaths (to songs such as Do the Astral Plane) to manically jumping up and down in a hip shaking frenzy (such as when he dropped Busta Rhyme’s Gimme Some More). It was everything we expect from Flying Lotus and somehow even more…

Shabazz Palaces

Shabazz Palaces are one of the most interesting bands in modern hip-hop. The Seattle based duo consists of Ishmael Butler aka Butterfly from Digable Planets (Cool like Dat) and Tendai “Baba” Maraire. They played at the Imperial late Saturday night before Thundercat and after Charlotte Day Wilson. Their music is the epitome of jazz infused hip hop that we miss from the 90’s yet it has a contemporary power that encapsulates the evolution of the genre. Butler’s delivery and lyrical content are mesmerizing and meaningful, it’s somewhere between spoken word and gangster rap. Maraire played classic West African instruments and orchestrated intuitive electronic beats directly beside him. The two are perfectly suited, always pushing new boundaries and are the first hip-hop band to sign with Sub Pop records. Their performance was clearly and magnificently improvisational. At certain points both members seemed possessed by some grand and ancient spirit and who am I so say they weren’t?

 

 

 

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From Sanskrit To Selfie Sticks- The Rise and Fall of Bohemia

 Disclaimer: sorry hippies.
Let me begin this potentially controversial article by stating that I completely recognize our entire society is powerfully and poorly affected by technology.I’m not referring to the access to a wider selection of knowledge at a highly efficient pace or the ability to communicate with loved ones almost anywhere.I am referring to the profoundly addicted generation we are currently in the throes of. The addiction to validation and disillusioned human connection we are constantly seeking though a screen. I am referring to the science of our brains being remodelled in that we now release actual endorphins when we receive positive alerts on these screens.I am referring to the desperation to fight loneliness and filling this gnawing chasm in our souls with the only way we now feel that we can.Yes,I know I am not exempt from this experience and I do see the irony towards the delivery of this message. That stated,myself and many others are aware towards the demise of our civilization and have generally accepted it yet try to utilize it in the best way possible. However,I do find it surprising that the social media phenomenon is so prevalent in the festival,rave,electronic and spiritual world,i.e: the hippie universe.
I get that being technologically focused also means being kinder to the environment but besides that,there is some major hypocrisy going on which is too bad considering this is often the argument against hippies ( and I’m on your side you crazy elves).
Isn’t this entire counter culture based on spiritual awakening,connecting with nature,not judging others and not feeling the need to be approved by society? Isn’t Bohemia all about truly connecting with one another and dancing like no one is watching,not to dance only if people are watching?I get there is a movement going on with twerking and body empowerment which I am in complete support of but this battle gets a bit lost in the filters of your photos scrambled all over the web. I see primarily aesthetics and current trends associated with electronic festivals that probably stand for much more. The dawning of the age of aquarius was once celebrated at festivals like Woodstock and the early stages of  Burning Man by completely disassociating with reality and focusing on mind expansion,human connection and being one with the environment. I know it’s a cliche argument to refer to how much more real things were in the good old days,but in this instance shouldn’t it always be like the good ol days? Isn’t hippie culture associated with connecting to ancient roots and spirituality?Isn’t that what yoga,meditation and energy alignment is fuelled by?Besides the spiritual aspect of it isn’t the fashion and lifestyle also referencing a time we were not zombies obsessed with technology and media?

I see more photos and videos of modelesque,primarily white and quite similarly dressed  people associated with electronic festivals more than any other kind.I see more selfies,Facebook updates and photo shoots from those who associate with this occult yet elitist world. I find it disheartening as at least mainstream festivals and the people that attend generally know that they’re part of the cooperate world.We count on spiritual people to inspire us to be less modern and shallow. We need you hippies,fight for your culture and get back to the garden.

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C.R. Avery- All The Angels Didn’t Scare Me

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The diversely and uniquely talented C.R Avery is soon to release a new album that will break your heart, blow your mind and melt your demons. Avery is one of Vancouver’s finest who has been pumping out powerful music and hypnotic performances for over 20 years. This is Avery’s whopping 17th album, the man is no stranger to rock and roll. Sometimes an unfortunate phenomenon occurs when an idiosyncratically local musician reaches a city’s musical plateau due to being drenched with ego boosts and easy bookings. However, I am happy to report that is not at all the case here, this is easily Avery’s best work yet. All Angels Didn’t Scare Me weaves the strongest aspects of several distinctive genres. To describe Avery’s music as varied and multi-instrumental is perhaps a tad cliché, however it’s essentially unavoidable as Avery manages to cross genres in the best way possible. In order to properly express this said diversity I will be more specific.

All The Angels Didn’t Scare Me is filled with the heart of a classic country album, weaving heartache and hilarity gracefully yet powerfully. His songwriting is infused with classic Americana and if I were to compare him to anyone here it would be Amy Grant and Chris Whitley. Each song is a narrative about a different character and references to what it truly is to live in East Van. Steve Dawson’s lead guitar playing emanates that of a blues musician from hundreds of years ago haunting the back of some freight train while achieving musical excellence. There is distinctive intelligence in the album and what one may even call “magic”; it reaches a place beyond the corners of reality.

Avery is enigmatically unstoppable music machine; he pumps out songs like a vending machine pumps out candy at a 4:20 rally. Over the years, Avery has collected wisdom not dust and I can’t wait for you to hear this album.

 

 

 

Festival Fever 2016-Where To Find Yourself This Summer

 

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Welcome to festival season my fellow music consumers. Congratulations, we made it through another gruelling winter that somehow seemed endless. However, summer always this charming way of coming back around. I now present to you, in my oh so humble opinion, my suggestions of where to find music this summer.

Levitation Vancouver-June 16-19

Levitation Vancouver is the love child of Austin Psych Fest (aka Levitation) and Timbre concerts. This is Levitation Vancouver’s sophomore year, which is quite impressive considering the lineup, organization and anticipation involved. Like Austin Psych Fest, Levitation offers the cream of the crop of shoe gaze, trip hop, experimental, metal and psychedelic music. During the day, the festival takes places in stunning Stanley Park placed conveniently in the centre of the city and encapsulates sheer natural beauty with ever-changing landscape and rich acoustics. At night an array of excellent downtown and china town venues open their doors to the festival providing a generous amount of options and variety. The lineup this year is incredibly diverse and wonderful. This year’s bill includes the electronic magician Flying Lotus, bass machine Thundercat, the Digable Planets continuation Shabazz Palaces. The brain bending Suuns, art rock phenomena Of Montreal, The late Lou Reed’s favourite band Holy Fuck, and the hypnotizing The Growlers. Not to mention the amazing Tycho, the Oh See’s and of my all time favourites’ Dead Meadow. Along with a spree of local talent including Did You Die, Dead Ghosts and returning to their home turf White Lung. Levitation Vancouver is one of the most significant, refreshing and innovative events we often complain that Vancouver lacks.

Winnipeg Folk Fest-July 7-10

I am potentially biased as Winnipeg is my hometown and this is the first music festival I ever attended. However, Winnipeg Folk Festival is a truly phenomenal place that always manages to be it’s own kind of special. The festival takes place after Winnipeg melts away and becomes a balmy, sticky, glowing masterpiece. It is held an hour outside of Winnipeg at Bird’s Hill Provincial park. You may camp all weekend-party all night and lie in the sun all day while intermediately witnessing widely diverse and mesmerizing music. You can buy one day passes and return to the festival well showered and slept or you can beat the heat and just watch the headliners at the main stage during the magic of the starry nights- whatever works for you.

This particular year is notably “folkier” than the previous which I believe was intentional and important. The lineup this year involves the heartbreaking Ryan Adams, the budding Andy Shauf and the hypnotic Possessed by Paul James. Additionally, the gigantic and impressive Lemon Bucket Orchestra, the one and only Ben Caplan and the Casual Smokers, The powerful Ryley Walker. Along the amazing talent Winnipeg is bursting with like the magnetic and commanding trio Red Moon Road and the deliciously home brewed Crooked Brothers. Additionally, some of the best food, drink and people in the Country are offered generously at this prairie paradise.

ArtsWells-Wells,BC-July 29-Aug 1

There truly is no other place like ArtWells, which seems to be the first thing most people say about this spectacular four day art explosion in Wells, BC. Wells is a small, beautiful and historic town located in the Cariboo region of Northern BC. That stated it is not particularly easy to get to and the fact that it is packed with thousands of people is a sign the festival is doing all the right things. The truth is, they are; this tiny town is completely taken over by the festival, which makes for various venues for the even more various artists including churches, a heritage theatre, a casino, pub, legion, community hall and pockets of outdoor spaces that are surrounded by mountains and river. Everywhere you look offers a different kind of extraordinary beauty with a different kind of creative force. Musicians, visual artists, theatre and spoken word are all part of this omni-presently satisfying paroxysm of creative freedom.The lineup will be announced shortly and is sure to convince you to make the trip

Pickathon-Happy Valley,Oregon- Aug 5-7

Pickathon is a profoundly magical place, not only is it surreally beautiful it also manages to pull off impossibly well-crafted lineups. Pickathon is located about 40 minutes outside of Portland in the wholesome Happy Valley which is as lovely as it sounds, it’s on a ranch that otherwise serves as a farm with a waldorf school. It is a beautiful, woodsy paradise that celebrates the perfect combination of scorching sunlight and dusty shade. Sounds arrange variably throughout each stage, which consist of: two barns with walls decorated from relics of previous year, the womb like woods stage made from an avalanche of branches, a fort made out of pallets and a main stage made out of several parachutes that reel you in. The Bars are actual tree houses, which offer Portland’s finest swill.

There is virtually zero waste, recycling and compost bins are everywhere and the campsite is like a support group. There are creative kids practicing their craft in every corner, no one gets out of hand yet everyone is having the time of their lives. This year Wilco’s front man and sonic genius Jeff Tweedy is playing solo which is a rare and spectacular experience in that he focuses more on the Americana lullabies and old timey tunes that are not as prevalent in his work with Wilco. The raw and innovative Wolf Parade, the shoe gaze resurrection Beach House and Vancouver beloved Black Mountain will also be featured. Everyone’s favourite dirty little brother Mac DeMarco, the renowned Yo La Tengo and lord of low-fi Ty Segall will also be playing this year. Pickathon is for genuine music lovers who come there to love genuine music.

Bumbershoot- Seattle, Washington -Sep 2-4

Bumbershoot is located downtown Seattle, Washington and packed with music, comedy and workshops. The festival is unapologetically mainstream and well funded, this is not the place you find yourself in the forest but it’s the place where you witness generous contemporary hip hop and drink amazing lattes. The lineup this year includes some of hip hop’s finest and freshest-Tyler the Creator, Anderson. Paak and G Easy. The mesmerizing Tame Impala, violin virtuoso Andrew Bird and our favourite honey bear Father John Misty will also be taking the stage. In addition to the musical performances; comedy shows, various workshops, and invigorating presentations take place to keep all your senses buzzing. The commitment required towards the festival is minimal as you can come and go as you please. If you are visiting from out of Seattle this is the best way to see the city and finalize your summer.

No matter where you find yourself remember that live music isn’t dead and neither is the art of the festival. Be excellent to each other, stop judging people for wearing wild outfits (unless it’s a headdress then judge away) drink lots of water and clean up after yourself.

 

Jack Garton- Move the Mess Around

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       Photo by Linsday Dakin

The unmistakable Jack Garton and his latest project the Demon Squadron will soon release their first remarkable album appropriately titled Move the Mess Around. Garton is originally from Vancouver and now resides happily in the inspiring Galiano Island amongst his wife and three children. Garton has been making music for over ten years and is known for his previous accordion, songwriting and singing contribution to the B.C beloved Maria in the Shower. Garton assembled the Demon Squadron in 2013, which is compiled of a spree of talented B.C based musicians. Amrit Basi plays drums, Brendon Hartley is on bass, Adam Farnsworth is on keys, Steven Drake on Lap Steel and Sage Trampleasure plays the violin. The Demon Squadron have been touring over the past few years, polishing and performing many of the tracks from this gem of a debut album.

Move the Mess around is a conceptual explosion of polyphonic precision. It’s vibrant and fun yet refined and sophisticated. One couldn’t work without the other and the band is intelligent enough to perfect the sound of straddling the balance between festival party rock and timeless roots music. Their sound is certainty eclectic but not scattered. Garton’s skill in accordion is ever-present throughout the course of the album, which provides a strong foundation for the multi-faceted instrumentation. On top of this foundation the musicality involves textured keyboard work, a polished horn section, brilliant percussive work, elegant violin and deeply echoing bass. On top of the complex instrumentation is lyrical marvel and resonating harmonies. Garton assembled a variety of relatable matter of fact stories to heartbreaking metaphorical lullabies all sung with vigour and astonishing range.

Each song sets a different tone, some make you want to dance around a barnyard and forget you are employed (Straight Line) while others make you want to brood in your man- made misery and figure out how to stitch yourself back together (Two Drops of Gin). Some songs are autobiographical such as 700 years which is about Garton’s relationship with fatherhood. The last song on the album Swim Across the River refers to advice his own father gave him which he didn’t take, and probably should have.

The album contains a common theme of commitment, offering various points of view on this highly contentious subject. Jack admits this has been challenging for him yet he is always learning and this experience has made him stronger.The album is an honest, vulnerable yet relentlessly fun body of work that commits entirely to being authentic.This refreshingly real approach towards songwriting is palpable throughout the album and something we can certainly all relate to. We are all trying to be better, or at least we trying to find a way to move the mess around. Move the Mess Around is a brilliant album that is arguably the most appropriate and honest soundtrack for our current generation that is just trying to walk in a straight line.

Move the Mess Around will be released on Father’s day-June 19

 

 

Layman Genres-Titles of Music We Need To Finally Retire

Chick Rock Despite the fact that term chick isn’t progressive or politically correct this genre title is also horribly generalizing. Chick Rock is the title of both a Last FM channel and very recen…

Source: Layman Genres-Titles of Music We Need To Finally Retire

Political Correctness VS Freedom Of Speech-The New Social War

 

It is almost impossible to ignore the controversial battle between being politically correct and expressing freedom of speech.On one side of the argument there is a significant group of people who strongly believe in equality for all and practice the appropriate vocabulary to support this. This includes having the correct terms for ethnicities, gender, sexual preference, religious status, disabilities and political movements (just to name a few).On the other side of this discussion many feel that our society is becoming overly-sensitive, taking jokes too seriously and censoring our freedom of expression.

According to the Oxford Dictionary politically correct is defined as: A term that is used to describe language, policies, or measures which are intended not to offend or disadvantage any particular group of people in society.

Being politically also recognizes our history, which is embarrassingly racist, homophobic, sexist and generally prejudice towards any minority. That is not to say these problems don’t currently exist, they certainly do but we are finally practicing equality more than even before in our society and I’ll be damned if that is somehow a problem

A recent article in the Guardian quite astutely expresses that black-face at Halloween parties and sexist jokes were much more tolerated pre social media. However, racism and casual misogyny were just as corrosive to black and lack and female humanity in 1998 as they are in 2016; sensitivity hasn’t changed –access has. “The punch lines are punching back. But it’s much easier to ignore your complicity in oppressive systems if you can cast the people who have been legitimately harmed as oversensitive” (Lindy West, The Guardian ,2015) .

This past week a radio host from Winnipeg, MB was finally told his misogynist and racist videos,were not acceptable and repercussions need to be made. This was met with a huge backlash from the majority of people involved in the argument indicating that the others are taking it “too seriously” and they “can’t take a joke”. So, lets pretend for a moment these videos were actually funny and clever. If that was the case the punch line in these particular videos is towards the extreme racial divide and deeply rooted poverty issues that exist within city (where I happened to grow up). Neither of these issues are funny and most people would agree with that if they really thought about it. This host also felt the need to further argue his stance by explaining, “Winnipeg doesn’t really have a racism problem”.

Donald Trump makes countless misogynistic statements about women that are fairly tolerated, as he is just “being funny”. If his jokes were funny the punch line is within the dangerous misogyny and sexism that is vibrant all throughout our world which is in no way funny. Although Trump has various ridiculous quotes to choose from, I believe that “The biggest issue that faces America is that we are too politically correct” (Washington Post, 2016) takes the cake.

Trump is saying that the biggest issue that faces the country is not:national security, terrorism, the economy, gun control, unemployment, ethics or crime-all of these issues, (to the potential next president of America) are less important than people’s ability to swallow sexist jokes. Again, most of us can agree there is a fundamental flaw in this logic when we really think about.

Then there are the countless rape jokes, most notably of comedian Daniel Tosh who feels it’s more important to make jokes towards rape than be silenced. He thinks that it would be horribly “unfair” to him…as a white male (just saying). He even took the liberty to respond to a female heckler saying “rape jokes aren’t funny” with “wouldn’t it be funny if she got raped by like five guys right now” again, so not funny. It’s not like we don’t get the joke, we get it and we don’t like it and that’s our freedom. These are just recent examples, and barely scratch the surface of a much larger issue.

According to the Oxford Dictionary freedom of speech is defined as: The concept of the inherent human right to voice one’s opinion publicly without fear of censorship and punishment.

That being said, some of the opinions of people who really feel the need to fight for freedom of speech are concerned that if we are too censored we will not be dealing with issues, we are just pretending they’re not there. This is a completely  worthy argument, however it’s not really the case. The reality is that we now have more knowledge and tools in our culture, vocabulary and media to be less ignorant and hurtful to marginalized people and minorities that are, all too often, misunderstood. Additionally, in what workplace can we really say anything we want without repercussions? Freedom of speech exists in our social culture but not in our professional. Is it really so important that we have the “freedom” to make lazy offensive jokes and keep words like “retard” in our vocabulary? Is it really worth fighting for the freedom so say hurtful statements that attacks people we don’t understand the experience of just so we get a few laughs at a BBQ? White privilege, which I recognize I have, is real and we haven’t struggled as much as any other group in Western society. So maybe, just maybe, we can handle exchanging a few well-chosen words in our generous and widely articulated language.

If the concern is really geared at not having interesting and important discussions about prejudice, I guarantee you people with intention to be politically correct would be happy to have these conversations with you. If your vision of a politically correct person is a non-inclusive, judgmental and radical feminist with an I hate men shirt logo, just remember there are extremists in any social movement just like fascists on the other end of this argument. The opposite of political correctness is not freedom of speech, not recognizing privilege is.

The Best New Albums You May Not Be Hearing

Car Seat Headrest-Teens of Style/Teens of Denial

Car Seat Headrest are by no means new and unappreciated however Teens of Denial is groundbreaking and needs to be heard abundantly by the masses. The album isn’t officially released until May but several singles are accessible, most notably the modern remarkable ballad Vincent. Car Seat Headrest are based out of Seattle and driven by 24-year-old front man Will Toledo.  Toledo  is originally from Virginia and way too young to be so talented. Toledo started recording at 17 out of his family’s car for a sense of solitude and guaranteed soundproofing. He assembled a generous catalog of contentious, intelligent and genuinely lo-fi songs well paired with the oblivion of youth. In 2014, Toledo assembled a lineup with bassit Ethan Ives and drummer Andrew Katz. Together they formed Car Seat Headrest and released the album Teens of Style which is a prequel to Teens of Denial. Their music is filled with astutely critical observations of our current society, wax-poetic ramblings and complex walls of reverb. Both albums emphasize 2nd generation theology, depression, lack of direction and the complex relationship with alcohol one has in their early 20’s (or potentially evermore). Teens of Style got the band signed with Matador, a record label that is a barometer of talent. Teens of Style is a collection of the band’s catalogue over the past three years, reworked and reinterpreted. Teens of Denial dives further into this concept with new material that is distinctively them, which is notably impressive for such a young band. Their music is a refreshing ethnography of the new generation, reminding us music still matters, art is still thriving and new ideas are being created. Car Seat Headrest do resemble the sounds of The Strokes and Pavement which is part of what makes them so brilliant, yet they are something completely innovative all together. The official release of Teens of Denial is May 2016.

 

Anderson. Paak- Malibu

This is that jazz infused, well-written, relaxing and sensual hip hop you have been aching for. Brandon Anderson Paak is a west coast based singer/songwriter, he is diversely talented, exceedingly intelligent and remarkably magnetic. Malibu is Anderson. Paak’s (the period is intentional) fourth album and arguably his magnum opus, it is immediately affable and relentlessly stimulating in it’s entirety. His mother was a farmer in South Korea and his father served in the Air Force before he went to prison. Paak shared he didn’t see him again until he was being buried (via Consequence of Sound). At the age of 29 he has a unique and enlightened perspective of the world, he shares his personal stories and inspiring annotations in Malibu in the most appeasing way imaginable. Paak collaborated amply with Dr. Dre in Compton last year, which got him the recognition  he deserves. His previous work, such as the album Venice released in 2014, is great but Malibu is exceptional; it is profound, personal and unapologetic. Other talented artists such as Schoolboy Q, Talbi Kweli and The Game are featured on the album which adds to it’s complexity. Malibu discusses the difficulty he has endured with lyrics such as “ya moms in prison, ya father need a new kidney, ya family’s splittin’, rivalries between sibling,  if cash ain’t king, it’s damn sure the incentive”  from track:  The Season/Carry Me.

Although the album’s content is dark, it manages to be almost impossible not to dance to. It is dripping with soul, funk and everything there is to love about hip hop. His voice is pure molasses, he raps with unparalleled dominion and the beats are a combination of New Orleans and Chicago based blues and jazz. There are moments in Malibu that pay notable homage to James Brown followed by innovative lyrics rapped with precision. Much like Guru’s Jazzmatazz or the Abstract and The Dragon’s Mix-Tape, Paak takes time to thank everyone who assisted him on the creation of the album. This is part of what makes Malibu an inclusive and inviting body of work. On the final track : The Dreamer (which features Talib Kweli and the Timan family choir) Paak shares “ This one’s for all the little dreamers, I’m a product of the tube and free lunch. Who cares if your daddy couldn’t be here”.

Malibu ever-presently emphasizes the importance that you can do amazing work in this world despite the struggles you have endured. It is an record for everyone and even if the lyrics aren’t your thing the musicality of it will hypnotize you. Malibu is available internationally, as it should be, I envy those that get to hear it for the first time.

 

Rolla Olak-Heavy Feather

Vancouver based Rolla Olak’s latest album Heavy Feather is incredibly inviting yet remarkably resonating. This dichotomy is astutely captured in the name of the record. Heavy Feather is a wistful and poetic album yet void of cliche or over saturation. Olak takes you on a scenic route through stories of friendship, heartache and learning virtues along the dusty road.

Heavy Feather was recorded on Vancouver Island, Canada and produced by Aaron Older (Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros) and engineered, mixed and mastered by Colin Stewart (Black Mountain).In Addition to Olak’s hauntingly appeasing voice, original songwriting and refined guitar playing, the accompanying musicians on this record are impossibly well suited to this project: Kathryn Calder (The New Pornographers) sings and plays piano with great talent, Nick Petrowitch (Bend Sinister) is on percussion and plays with distinctive precision, Louise Burns (Lillix) harmonizes with Olak brilliantly. Aaron Older provides synth and percussion and Francesco Lyon (Sun Wizard) adds  vocal arrangements. Olak’s sound is original, warm and evocative; it’s an invitation to experience a mosaic of gratifying emotions.

Olak explained “So many people were involved in this record. Aaron and Colin made it sound so good sonically. They also helped break down the songs and build them back up again live with an old drum machine”. 

His songs combine the strongest elements of shoe gaze, americana and country resulting in textured sound. Olak is inspired by the likes of Neil Young, Randy Newman and Bob Dylan, which is evident in his intelligent songwriting but his sound is unprecedented. Heavy Feather is emotional yet it never feels sorry for itself, which is refreshing in the over-zealous nature of our contemporary culture. The album is flawlessly assembled, mixed with precision and worth listening to abundantly, providing you with something different each time. Heavy Feather is on Older Records and available on itunes internationally.

Why Criticizing Coachella is Useless

Maddy Cristall

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Beautiful people somehow managing to have fun

Coachella; a term that may immediately create images of trendy cultural misappropriation,trust fund kids trying to desperately spot celebrities and a sea of people who generally contradict the foundation of music festivals. Coachella may also make one think of the first major festival of the year where an eclectic mix of the world’s most successful recording artists perform to countless beautiful people in ideal desert weather.

The incredibly popular two-weekend festival is less than a month away which is when an abundance of articles are released addressing how terrible the whole damn thing is. Meanwhile, it is common that prior to the event, festivalgoers lounge in Palm Springs or L.A meeting Vince Staples and SZA by the Poolside. Coachella is geared towards the wealthy, lucky and stereotypically gorgeous people of the world.

The countless articles bashing Coachella mainly addresses A) How the festival…

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Scars Don’t Define You, They Decorate You

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When I was two years old I got third degree burns, the event at hand was a freak accident. I was enjoying an afternoon at home with my mom and brother. Although my memory of that time was naturally foggy I seem to recall there being a palpable sense of happiness, security and safety in the room. My mother was making a rare treat of Ninja Turtle Kraft Dinner, which I believe has sadly since been discontinued. I was sitting on the counter beside the stove, simply observing life as a two year old does. My mother picked me up with her delicate and gentle hands, as she was doing so my elbow hit the pot of water and scolded my young, fragile and impossibly fair skin. Chaos ensued and we immediately rushed to the hospital. As my mother was carrying me into the emergency ward I was listening to her profound heartbeat; this is my first cognitive memory. Her beating heart was fast, powerful and devoted; much like the woman herself. This memory of her heartbeat comforted me for the entire month we spent in the hospital together. I learned very young that one moment could change your entire life.

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That stated, this experience was merely a part of my wonderful childhood. I have a great family, got to know all of my grandparents, played liberally, laughed relentlessly and learned keenly. The sharp and vibrant scars covering 30 % of my body seemed to bother those around me more than myself. This was made fiercely clear when I became a teenager attending high school. Many of my peers told me my scars were ugly; they alienated me for having them as if they were contagious and made me feel as though I should be ashamed of my body. I recall lazy nicknames such as “chicken skin” and “scar girl”. Evidentially people that treat others this way are punished in their limited vocabulary. Luckily, this didn’t get to me, I waltzed around my high school proudly knowing that I was gifted with an accessory that these kids didn’t have:confidence.

Many people  have scars that represent something heartbreaking like a house fire or violence and every morsel of my heart goes out to them. Some people have scars because they transitioned to the gender they were born to be or won a battle against breast cancer and that can represent strength and bravery. For myself, I have been able to transform the traumatic experience of my burn into a celebration towards my beautiful relationship with my mother, my acceptance of being different and the opportunity to share my experience. To anyone out there that is treated poorly by others based off of your physical differences just remember that’s their struggle not yours. You can continue to be a whole person in this life despite any hardship you have experienced. I live a good life, completely unburdened by my scars and I choose to not have people in it that make me feel bad about myself. Life is short; we may as well love our bodies no matter how they look through the whole godamn ride.

 

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