The Best of 2012: Saskatchewan’s Music Scene

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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

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.

julie doiron

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.

breaker breaker

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.

Kay the Aquanaut at Saskatoon Park(ing) Day

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 going to do great things in 2013.

close talker 1

Hailing from Regina, College Kids feature Carl of Library Voices and Andy Shauf of Andy Shauf. Hopefully they’ll be making their way back north soon. For those who didn’t catch them a couple of weekends ago, the trio plays fuzzed-the-fuck-out indie pop in the vein of Archers of Loaf.

Regina also saw the formation of another new group called The Spoils, who feature an ex-member of Sylvie and the War Doves.

Saskatoon’s Minor Matter similarly are doing something unique in this city – band members switch instruments impetuously, playing lullabye-esque dream pop.

Made up of ex-members of Breaker Breaker and the tall dude from Herd of Wasters, Mondo Trasho are a fearlessly blistering punk group – catch them on New Years Eve at Lepps.

Shockflesh are another new band that I haven’t seen yet, but after only one show together they’ve already garnered some pretty rave reviews. Catch them opening for Savage Henry and the Infamous One Pounders on Dec. 29.

Looking forward to 2013: Upcoming Releases

pirate fridays

Pirate Fridays will be dropping their new full-length CD at Vangelis on Jan. 4. This follows the release of their teaser video for the song “Semi-Golden Smile”.

Powder Blue are planning on releasing their new album on vinyl, and will be hosting a release part on Jan. 19 at Amigos.

Lady Deathstryke are rumoured to be releasing another EP in the near future. Ominocity got a sneak preview earlier this summer and we can say with all confidence that this is going to slay.

Jeans Boots has also spent some time in the studio, and are planning on a new EP as well.

Slow Down Molasses are currently planning on an upcoming full-length, and have been working with Besnard Lake’s Jace Lasek in the studio.

We Were Lovers will be releasing a video for their New Years Eve gig at Amigos. Ominocity got a sneak preview of this one as well and it’s total killer. A full-length album seems imminent.

Young Benjamins, who will be opening up the party at Amigos with We Were Lovers, have similarly been putting time in the studio recently. No details on when we’ll get to hear anything though.

Zachary Lucky’s album Saskatchewan has been out for some time, but will be released on delicious vinyl in early 2013.

-Illustration by Chrix Morix.