More music this week

Chad VanGaalen
The Sturgeons.
Sweet Alibi.


Few artists will release a critically acclaimed CD about fatherhood (Diaper Island) that also includes a song entitled Shave My Pussy and then put out eight cassette tapes to sell while on tour.

But not many artists are Calgary singer/songwriter/artist Chad VanGaalen.

Yes, like a modern-day Daniel Johnston, VanGaalen has self-recorded, dubbed and released eight cassettes of experimental yet brilliant music.

These tapes include Gem Clouds, Raw Operator, Dub Tassles #1 & #2, Invention of Science, Garbage Island 1 & 2 and Crumbling Bell Towers under his ultra lo-fi moniker Black Mold.

Some of these are B-sides from Diaper Island, while others border on hip hop.

To make them even more intense collectors’ items, each includes totally original hand-drawn cover artwork by VanGaalen himself and are all limited pressings.

Only available at the merch table on tour, they may or may not appear on his Flemish Eye record label’s website in the future, so do not hesitate if you’re a completist.

VanGaalen recently told the Off Modern blog that the cassette tape recorder is his main instrument, not the guitar.

“I can run a tape machine like no one’s business,” he says. “Like I can’t play the guitar, but I know how to use a tape deck, and these days everyone’s computer comes with Garageband, but 15 years ago, that was insane.”

Check out the self-deprecating Chad VanGaalen when he plays the West End Cultural Centre on Friday, Nov. 18 with No Gold. Tickets are $20 at Ticketmaster.


- Nicholas Friesen


“We feel that the sturgeon fish was the best way to describe our music.”

An unusual and perhaps unexpected way to describe one’s sound, you wouldn’t expect it any other way from twin brothers Luke and Cal Hamilton, also known as local duo The Sturgeons.

“The Sturgeons is a huge prehistoric fish that still lives today,” Cal Hamilton explains further. “Our music sounds old, real and is still in our hearts today.”

Starting out as the now-defunct foursome Wasted Talent almost a decade ago, the brothers have had plenty of time to discover and mould the old-time sound that they currently employ.

Thanks to classic Manitoba summer road trips, attending the annual Winnipeg Folk Festival for the past 14 years and stage managing at the Trout Forest Music Festival in Ear Falls, Ont., their love of music pre-dates them actually playing music.

“As little kids, our father introduced us to all kinds of music. We always liked singing along in the car on our way to our cottage at Falcon Lake,” Hamilton says. “As far as influences go, it was always about listening to new musicians you have never heard before. Music festivals are always the best place for influences.”

Recording this debut album, The Wood Shop, over a span of two years, The Sturgeons will celebrate its release Saturday, Nov. 19 at the Park Theatre with special guests Bog River taking the stage at 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at for $12 or at the door for $17.


- Pamela Roz


What do you call three talented and beautiful female musicians whose tight vocal harmonies deftly traverse any number of genres? Well, now you can call them Sweet Alibi.

Jessica Rae Ayre, Amber Nielson and Michelle Anderson have been playing together under the Sweet Alibi moniker for nearly three years and have grown an impressive local following.

The self-described folk roots trio recently returned from their Home Routes tour. The 12-date, prairie-centric tour took them as far as Fort McMurray in northern Alberta. Playing to small audiences in living rooms, Nielson says the band enjoyed the intimate experience.

“(There’s been) really big response from people,” she says. “Everyone really liked the music, so it was good.”

Their focus is now firmly on the release of their self-titled debut record, a musical collection more than a year in the making.

“We weren’t recording all year, it’s just that it took us that long to get together that many times,” says Nielson, who estimates the band spent more than 100 hours in the studio getting everything just right.

You can see the result at the Sweet Alibi CD release party this Sunday, Nov. 20 at the Park Theatre.

The band will be filled out by Alasdair Dunlop, Phil Collins and Mitch Dorge, and Scott Nolan will play a solo set to open before Sweet Alibi takes to the stage to play their full album.

Doors open at 7:15 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door and copies of their new CD can be had for $20.


- Aaron Snider

Published in Volume 66, Number 12 of The Uniter (November 17, 2011)

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