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Toronto based punk rock group Die Mannequin is a young band of three that’s already enjoyed lots of success and attention. With the pending release of their first ‘real’ full length studio album, Fino + Bleed, there’s no sign of stopping either. Lead by now 22 year old front woman Care Failure (Caroline Kawa), she was 16 when first revving up her career in the music industry and awarded her own sub-label, How To Kill – a division of Warner Music.
The band started as The Bloody Mannequins releasing their first EP, sharing its title with the record label. Despite the genre difference, tracks were produced by Canadian electronic duo Jesse F. Keeler and AI-P, better known as MSTRKRFT. Failure briefly slipped away, joining Canadian supergroup The Big Dirty Band, featuring Rush’s Geddy Lee (bass), Alex Lifeson (guitar), Ian Thornley and Three Days Grace’s Adam Gontier (vocals/guitar). For Failure, the audition led to surprise, “it was a quick experience but a lasting one. I thought I’d get backups and got the whole song – I’m still like a pup but with them even more so. Maybe Alex just liked my voice, he’s a sweetie.”
That ‘whole song’ Failure snagged was a cover of Sonny Curtis and The Crickets’ I Fought The Law which was included on the soundtrack for The Trailer Park Boys: The Movie with a full video. The video featured fellow Die Mannequin Anthony “Useless” Bleed though he didn’t contribute to the track. Bleed who’s been with Failure for six years nicknamed her Fino, which is where the title of the new album comes from. The third Mannequin rounding out the group is drummer, Ghostwolf.
For their second EP, Slaughter Daughter, Die Mannequins turned to Billy Talent’s Ian D’Sa to produce two tracks as well as international producer/dj Junior Sanchez. “The producers we chose, we just got on the phone and asked ‘em,” Failure says. “There’s nothing bad to say about any of them,” adding the dance backgrounds of some enhance her process. “I like to shake it! I like to write heavy dance music, if you can dance around in your underwear, it works for me.”
Failure’s satisfied with not having rushed straight into a studio album, “EP’s are awesome, you get together as a band and become bulletproof.”
Aside from great producers, Die Mannequin was also invited to travel alongside Guns ‘n Roses for their Canadian tour, “it was like Guns ‘n who?” Failure said referencing the call. Shortly after, at performance of their own, Failure, who brings audience folk up on stage for any given song per show did so only to be informed afterwards that her guest was from iTunes. Another golden moment turned opportunity which saw Autumn Cannibalist become the free single of the week.
The lead single from Fino + Bleed is Bad Medicine, which Failure had a say in. “Getting creative control is useless if the label has veto, they wanted something else and I wasn’t feelin’ it. I’m lucky I had a say; we just have to agree in the end.” Other highlights of the new album include Dead Honey and Start It Up. Written in just a month (due to the theft of Failure’s laptop), the album is also available in a deluxe edition paired with the documentary called Rawside, directed by Bruce McDonald. Failure joked, “It’s crazy, we must be the first band to have a DVD history [in an early album], we just laugh about it.”
Failure, who writes what she knows and counts The Pixies and Queens of the Stone Age amongst her inspirations, shared her writing process. “Creativity’s so strange and different for everyone; it’s a muscle too. I write something every single day, some are shit. Remind yourself it has to be fun.”
Fino + Bleed is an unquestionably fun punk rock album which hits stores September 8.
All of the ingredients to create the perfect storm of jazz and blues are mustering up, right now. In a matter of days, the Wreckhouse International Jazz and Blues Festival will rev up and get started. This year promises to be one of the best yet, as Wreckhouse Jazz and Blues seeks to get settled after launching its new brand just last year. While the look is shiny and new having only been unveiled immediately before the 2008 festival, this year is actually the eighth annual event since the original Hew Knoo Jazz Festival as it was once known. The calibre of festival has ostensibly grown and now the truly international flavour is being fully embraced for the first time by including it in the festival’s name.
This year’s line up of 150 artists packed into 40 concerts over a six day period from July 14th – 19th is reflective of impeccable taste and variety. If anything is for certain, there’s plenty to celebrate at this year’s festival which kicks off July 14th with a Latin inspired evening at the Martini Bar featuring Salsa Roca, Bill Brennan and Banda Brazil.
Multiple Juno nominee’s Cadence, not to be missed on day two, are a four-man group who need nothing more then a vocal warm up and a microphone. They’ve performed alongside greats such as Gordon Lightfoot and Quincy Jones and as part of Wreckhouse, they’re also offering a workshop on stage presence before their show in the afternoon!
Also on July 15th at the D. F. Cook Recital Hall, The Bad Plus will be performing tracks off their most recent release, For All I Care which mixes up highly familiar rock and pop pieces with classical songs all on the same album. The thought behind the somewhat concept album was that all music can share the same space and be appreciated. Unlike the group’s initial release, Prog, the latest offering is the first time The Bad Plus has welcomed a guest vocalist.
Getting right to business with a great schedule highlight for the whole family, Kelly-Ann Evans, Janet Cull and Dana Parsons will be paying tribute to Motown’s 50th anniversary on July 16th at Holy Heart Theatre. The local ladies of soul will honour the work of women including Aretha Franklin, Roberta Flack and The Supremes.
After the kids have gone to bed, Dusk will feature Kirsten Price later that same night with Gramercy Riffs opening and again the next with Janet Cull & the Backline. Billboard magazine claims Price “should offer triple A radio a new star,” and people are likely to have heard her soulful voice before her solo album Guts and Garbage in commercials for Coke, Clinique and Campbell’s. Her tracks have also been featured in shows such as The L Word, CSI and ABC’s Cashmere Mafia.
Saturday, Halifax-based Gypsophilia perform at the Martini Bar as well as The Shuffle Demons who include three saxophonists, a dancing drummer and an upright bass player. Celebrating a quarter century together, The Shuffle Demons are known for a wacky wardrobe and a no holds barred approach to performance which often has them playing right in the middle of their audience. Gypsophilia is also not a small group, featuring seven young talents who released their ECMA nominated debut album in 2007 called Minor Hope. They’re now following that up with Sa-Ba-Da-OW! They’ve been promoting the record since its June 19th release on a national tour that makes a stop at the Wreckhouse International Jazz and Blues Festival.
For a taste of Gospel, another of the four workshops being offered this year will take place Saturday July 18th, hosted by Ken Whiteley – one of Canada’s most respected Roots musicians. A performer since the 1960’s with the Original Sloth Band, Whiteley’s even taken to the Saturday Night Live stage with Leon Redbone. Those that attend the vocal workshop in the morning will also have a shot at performing themselves when Whiteley does a Roots and Gospel Revue at the Elim Pentecostal Tabernacle the following afternoon on Sunday.
The festival will be non-stop right up to the final highlights lined up for the night of Sunday July 19th that include the beloved Nickel Gets Jazzed and Wreckhouse Gets Framed at the Martini Bar. The event features silent films shot on old school film during the Nickel which are screened for the first time, accompanied by a jazz musician. Just up the street at Dusk, Blackburn will be the grand finale to an extremely jam packed six days!
Wreckhouse Jazz and Blues has made it incredibly easy to get involved with these events; complete schedules, workshop information and tickets are available through their newly redesigned website, www.wreckhousejazzandblues.com. They’ve also included a Festival Pass option for the die-hard jazz and blues lovers at an amazing value of $140.00. Wreckhouse Jazz and Blues has also set up some free events throughout the festival week geared towards families and the outdoors. The Murray Premises Courtyard and Harbourside Park will play host to a lunchtime concert series and on Saturday July 19th Jayme Stone and Mansa Sissoko perform at the Bowring Park Amphitheatre, perfect for a picnic!
While bouncing around Facebook and the internet this afternoon, procrastinating some writing, dishes to wash and other things, I’ve learned something! Courtney Love, after years of being away (since 2006) is steadily (ok maybe not so ‘steadily’) working on a new album slated for a release towards the end of this year or early 2010. She’s still yet to confirm a label and according to a story published at NME.com, she’s on her fourth studio and third producer. That entry also confirms the return of Canada’s own Melissa auf der Maur which is exciting, though it seems she will be the only returning band member and is only said to be providing backing vocals while she continues to work on her own projects.
The new Hole studio album will be the fourth for the band and is called Nobody’s Daughter with co-writers including Billy Corgan and Linda Perry as well as the lead guitarist Love’s recruited – Micko Larkin.
With almost a dozen contenders registered and more pouring in, everything is set for the What You Got Wednesday’s DJ Tournament hosted by Loft 709 in association with sceneSTIR Productions. The complete list of DJ’s will go public when registration closes and anyone interested can get involved in a prequalification round that will whittle out the top eight who will go head to head with one another over a three week public tournament.
The first night, each DJ that shows up will get their 15 minutes of fame – literally. But it won’t quite be that easy. Unlike previous competitions that have taken place in the St. John’s metro area – What You Got Wednesday’s is on a mission to find the most versatile DJ – contestants will have to cram three different styles or genres of music into the time they’re allotted. Outside of this requirement, anything’s game.
Jonathan Loder is one of the event planners and the promoter but he attributed the idea of getting the competition going to the local and well loved DJ Sina. “Red Bull did DJ competitions across the country this year, but they didn’t come to Newfoundland. Sina thought that it was important for the talented DJ’s in St. John’s to be showcased.”
The judging panel will include Sina along with two additional local pro’s yet to be named out of the St. John’s music scene. They will be watching to see how each contestant reacts to the different crowds each night as the tournament progresses. “This contest is really going to show the contestants versatility as well as their ability to impress people who have an appreciation for DJ’s and not just a particular type of music,” Loder adds.
On a more tangible level, the judges will have to score each performance in five categories that include creativity, track selection, skills, stage presence and audience response. The performer with the highest score on a given night will proceed to the next round. With the top eight selected on night one, the second evening will cut things down to a top four with the final two being determined on night three, leading to the battle royale on the finale night. The performing set times will progressively increase from the beginning from 15 minute sets to half an hour to a full hour.
With $1,500.00 of cash and gear at steak, the winner will also be given a golden opportunity to open for Montreal-native DJ Shortcut, who was named the best club DJ in Montreal this year. “This is a great opportunity for people to get their music out, there are a lot of good DJ’s in this city that most people don’t get to hear. Hopefully a couple of people will end up with some gigs downtown out of this,” Sina encouraged.
The contestants that do sign up can rest assured that they won’t even need to be responsible for bringing their own gear. As the hosting sponsor of the event, Loft 709 will be providing a Pioneer DJ M800 mixer, 2 Technic 12’s, 2 CDJ 800’s and a Serato Scratch Live.
What You Got Wednesday’s is all set to discover and uncover some of the amazing and talented DJ’s and that’s what Loder and Sina are looking forward to the most. The best advice from Loder, “be creative, make sure you plan out your set, and come prepared for some tough competition.”
While every DJ is different in how they prepare for a performance, there is likely no dispute that the competition will be stiff. Sina is hoping there is opportunity to learn as well for the contestants, “because it will enhance [their] ability to transition between a variety of styles using beat matching and scratching, while keeping the crowds involved.”
The What You Got Wednesday’s DJ Tournament will begin Wednesday, June 3rd; presented by Loft 709 and sceneSTIR. Also being supported by local business Ballistic, and sponsors WESC and Volcom. Any interested DJ’s that want to sign up can email their information to firstname.lastname@example.org (deadline Sunday, May 31st).
So I can’t resist from making my first non “Current” related post now that I’ve just taken in the new video for the third single off of Britney Spears’ latest effort Circus.
Effort seems to be an approporate word to use to describe the album. I’ve never really been one to dive in after just anything Britney tosses into the masses. Fairly, I do have her greatest hits collection and the In The Zone album, but the latter was more out of my amour for Madonna then anything else, given her appearance on the lead single, but I digress.
Circus just doesn’t seem to have much going for it. Nothing that’s been released has been incredibly outstanding. Even if you don’t judge it from a technical standpoint and just take it for what it’s worth as temporarily hot pop, it’s still not doin’ much for me. Womanizer is incredibly repetitive and is more like the recording of a migraine, Kill The Lights was here and gone again in the blink of an eye and now we’re on to If You See Amy (that’s If You Seek Amy for those of us outside North America).
The link to the new video was sent along to me in an email post and I curiously clicked. The email I’d recieved was already making comparisons between the latter part of the video when Brit takes on the Suzie Homemaker style with the hot boys all around her to the photo shoot Madonna most recently did for W magazine. I don’t see that so much as the fact that she’s just going back and forth between innocent Britney and naughty Britney (but still toned down of course).
I found it all the more interesting that when I did a little further research, it turns out that the song is co-penned by Max Martin. Who’s he? The one and the same that co-wrote Oops… I Did It Again and more importantly – Baby, One More Time. Yes, he’s the man responsible for the song that brought Britney to the world. He’s in fact partially responsible for a dozen tracks from her with this latest – If You See(k) Amy – being the thirteenth. But this seems like a dud if only because of what the title suggestively implies over and over. Don’t get me wrong, I’ m not expecting Pulitzer prize winning lyrics out of a pop song, but really? Just say the title slowly – If … You … Seek … Amy. Apparently it can sound like F.. U.. C..K.. Me. Then when you toss the line before it in the song “All of the boys and all of the girls want to, if you seek amy,” it doesn’t even make logical sense other then to stand for the hidden message. I guess I just find it somewhat surprising (and perhaps I shouldn’t be) that the same guy who’s written genius pop songs with act’s like Pink (‘Cuz I Can and half of Funhouse) would write something like this.
I’m all for pushing buttons and limits, as I said – favorite artist =’s Madonna. But even when she did Justify My Love and went through the whole Sex Book phase, at least there was nothing hidden about it. With this new track from Britney, you have to go searching around and deciphering before you get to the (ooooooo) naughty message. But, I could also be totally naieve because according to a Wikipedia entry for the song, where I finally figured it out, little kids can get it – so why’d it take me so long!? Maybe it’s my male gene and the fact that guys just need it given’ to ‘em straight … or perhaps I’m just too innocent to get Britney’s naughty message right away. In any event, I’d give it two and a half outta five stars, just for it’s insideously catchy tune.