Tomi Milos
Features Editor

The most some McMaster students will interact with their surroundings is when they are running late for a lecture on the other side of campus. Fuelled by a mixture of adrenaline and caffeine, they may err on the side of formality and opt for the adventurous choice in cutting across the marshy bog that is the BSB lawn, not caring if they came out with their outfit sullied. Others may be less rash and simply take the stairs two at a time.

One thing remains true in all cases: in those few, anxious minutes spent traversing a sea of bodies milling around, everyone is forced to reconsider an environment they’re used to socializing in as an obstruction to their goal of getting from Point A to Point B.

For those looking to experience that thrill again and again without the awkwardness of stepping into class late, the McMaster Parkour Club offers a more appropriate means of being physically active while not conflicting with school time. The club was founded in 2008, capitalizing on the discipline’s steady rise in fame.

The movement is widely considered to have originated in France through the efforts of David Belle, who was born in 1973 to a Parisian firefighter. Prior to beginning his career as a firefighter, Belle’s father had busied himself in his adolescence at a military orphanage by rigorously training on the obstacle courses there. David himself was not very gifted academically or athletically and quickly grew disenchanted with school and organized sports. When he learned of how his father’s training had improved him as a person, David realized that he had found something worthwhile. Along with his cousins, Belle threw away all his other commitments and applied himself to training in a fashion that emphasized surpassing obstacles found in the urban environment through running, climbing, swinging, vaulting, jumping and rolling.

Today, parkour enjoys widespread popularity. Although practitioners normally shirk away from efforts to turn parkour into a competitive sport, as it inhibits the goal of self-development, Red Bull has taken to holding an event in Santorini called “Art of Motion”, which pits 18 of the world’s most adept parkour tracers against each other. Ryan Doyle, the “winner” of the first-ever “Art of Motion” event, insists that those taking part are doing just that, saying, “there are no losers.”

In a bid to better understand the intrigue, The Silhouette sat down with two prominent members of the club. Ethan Greenberg is a fourth-year Life Sciences student as well as club president who has been training for four years, while Muhammed Aydin is a second-year Life Sciences student who acts as vice-president and has been training since before he entered university.

Even at McMaster, where clubs compete with each other for members, the discipline enjoys a steady amount of growth. Greenberg emphasized that the group maintains a “come when you want” mentality that means the number of people at any given meet-up can vary.

“We have a bunch of people that sign up at the beginning of the year, but don’t show up later on. Sometimes we pick people up off the street just because they’re watching us.”

That being said, Aydin highlighted the fact that a core group of “15 to 20 people” exists. Of those diehard members, he noted that “most of them are male” but that they encourage anyone to come out and try their hand. At the moment, there are three girls who round out that core group.

For those interested in joining, the group meets on Tuesdays (12:30 p.m.), Thursdays (3:30 p.m.), and Saturdays (3:30 p.m.) outside of the Museum of Art. Though they begin there, Aydin said that they usually branch off and are open to taking their acrobatics anywhere.

“Popular spots that we like to  frequent include Hamilton Hall, Togo Salmon Hall, Chester New Hall, and the DeGroote School of Business.”

To avoid legal disputes should an injury occur, members are required to sign a waiver that exempts the club from any blame for an injury.

“It’s a policy we maintain because it’s a physically active buy viagra soft tabs sport.”

But because the group preaches a safety-first approach and makes sure novices take their time in progressing to more advanced moves, they say that injuries are extremely rare.

One of those cases occurred as a result of a complete newcomer rashly attempting to emulate Greenberg who was doing backflips off the wall in the gymnastics gym.

“This member wasn’t really familiar with parkour technique and couldn’t even do a standing backflip, while what I was doing was more complicated. The former member went for it recklessly and opened up in mid-flight which stopped their rotation and caused them to land on their head.”

The member in question suffered vertebrae fractures, but has since recovered. With this in mind, Greenberg again emphasized that they do not encourage anyone to attempt a difficult move that they aren’t physically ready for.

“The worst injuries we get now are just little cuts and bruises,” he said.

Occasionally, the club will opt for a “change of scenery” and head to downtown Hamilton where they spend some time at Jackson Square and attract the attention of some who would like to join.

Although parkour necessitates training in public space, Greenberg and Aydin stressed that it differs from sports like skateboarding where skater wax besmirches public monuments as it concerns itself with keeping the practicing environment in good shape. In their experience, they have rarely been asked to pick up their things and move.

Asked what parkour means to them and what in turn made them join, Greenberg and Aydin had similar responses. Greenberg said, “First of all, it’s very fun and can sometimes help in real-life situations. For example, one of our members is training to be a police officer and the physical and mental skills he develops through parkour are very applicable to that job. I enjoy the freedom of being in the air and also how it gets more challenging when you add complexity — whether that’s depth, height, or a drop.”

Aydin followed by saying, “Personally, I gravitated towards the self-improvement aspect. Other sports didn’t really interest me as much because I wanted to train for myself. I feel more confident and safer knowing that I could use my newly developed skills if I were ever to be in a precarious situation like being mugged, for example.”

Academically, both maintain that parkour has helped them hone their time management skills. They’ve seen the hyper-efficiency learned from parkour help them juggle their busy courseloads. Aydin said that the ability to transcend barriers that is the backbone of parkour translates well to schoolwork, because the knowledge that he can scale walls assists him when confronted with a metaphorical wall of sorts like a tough assignment.

At the end of the day, both were reluctant to consider parkour a counter-cultural movement. “[It is] essentially re-establishing something that we all should have,” said Aydin. “Humans are meant to move, but we set up constricting rules that tell us how to move. We’re exploring different types of movement by adapting to our environment. It’s more of a means of promoting individual expression than a rebellious act.”

 Correction: This article has been updated to correct the spelling of club member Muhammed Aydin's name.

Tomi Milos
Features Editor

When I stepped into Toronto’s Westin Harbour Castle Hotel on Oct.25, I was relieved to have found what Bob Dylan would have called “shelter from the storm” that was ominously brewing outside. I was meeting renowned writer Alexander Maksik for an interview while he was in town for the International Festival of Authors. I checked my watch and realized I had arrived early, so I took a seat at the bar, but I didn’t have to wait long for Maksik to join me. Clad in a white dress shirt, grey v-neck sweater and jeans, Maksik had a sharp aura about him that matched his lean prose. Upon closer inspection, I noticed his boots were made by reputable New England shoemakers Alden and we nerded out over #menswear for a little before getting down to business.

He was in town for his latest novel, A Marker To Measure Drift, which is a stunning glimpse into the world of a Liberian refugee, who upon escaping the terror that gripped Charles Taylor’s reign, is left to fend for herself on the Greek island of Santorini. Maksik’s Paris-set debut You Deserve Nothing was one of the most praised in recent years, but there was some backlash when the fact that the plot was based on controversial events from his past as a teacher was discovered.

In a year that the IFOA boasted an all-star lineup of literary stars such as Alice Munro, Margaret Atwood and Stephen King, Maksik said he was simply excited to connect with old friend Anthony Marra and to hear Rachel Kushner talk about her work. Though “lucky to have the opportunity” to attend such events through the support of others, Maksik spoke excitedly of his impending Nov. 4 departure to Hawaii where he will be able to focus on writing alone.

When I asked why he chose such an exotic setting for his second major work of fiction, Maksik said, “I started writing You Deserve Nothing while living there and it’s a place I’ve always loved.” He said that its beauty had been created through physical destruction and was always on the precipice of being destroyed [Editor’s note: there is an active volcano on Santorini] made it an interesting place to send an equally volatile character: “I like the undercurrent of rage, the potential to explode that the setting holds”.

Maksik admitted he had difficulty writing a novel that he had no personal experience to draw upon, but he said, “writing is always difficult”. After approaching writing Jacqueline from a variety of directions, Maksik discovered a voice that felt natural.

“I fell in love with this character and that was something that I had never really felt, a true affection for a fictional character. I didn’t really treat her as a woman or as an African, but as a particular character who happened to be those things.”

Having gone through twelve drafts of his first novel, Maksik said it had been a similar number with A Marker To Measure Drift but he has come to enjoy the viagra sale prices editing process. He spoke about how he initially scrapped 40,000 words of another novel when a friend who he’d been reading it aloud to suddenly told him that she didn’t care about the protagonists. While at the prestigious Iowa Writers Workshop, he came to notice that it sometimes “takes making that kind of mistake to write a book. It’s starting to occur to me that with the book I’m working on now that all of these first pages may end up being just for my own benefit, to get me to the place where the story begins.” Though reluctant to reveal any more details on his third novel, Maksik said that it’d be a love-story set in the Pacific Northwest.

In a bid to cut out distractions, Maksik says he now adopts an almost religious routine that he abides by when writing. “When I’m writing, I wake up at a certain time and usually go for a run or exercise in some way before having breakfast and then I will work. I try to write a 1000 words a day and I keep a journal of the novel I am working on.” With a laugh, Maksik said his regimen is not very interesting but “if I do those things everyday, I feel like a healthy human being.”

When I pressed him for any advice he’d give to young writers who are entering a rapidly shifting commercial landscape, Maksik said, “You should want to do it more than anything else. You have to be ready to be rejected over and over again. Like anything, the most important thing is love. If you really love it, then that’s what you should do.”

This was not so clear to Maksik himself, who admitted that he made a mistake in buying into the romantic notion that writers lived a certain lifestyle that most people associate with Hemingway’s debauchery — smoking cigarettes, drinking a lot, living in Paris. “I did all these stupid things, but in the end I was never writing and it took me a long time to figure out that I had to sit down at a table and just do it. All of the rest is just affectation.”

Looking to end on a less serious note, Maksik wisecracked, “If you wanna be a football player, you can't just throw on some shoulder pads; you have to learn to play football really well. It's simple advice, but you just have to write."

Tomi buying viagra without prescription Milos
Features Editor

Artist: Albert Hammond Jr.

Discovering Albert Hammond Jr.’s solo material after cutting your teeth on his work with The Strokes was a breath of fresh air. Songs like “Everyone Gets A Star” and “In Transit” revealed him to have a keen songwriting instinct and an irresistible voice.

But the sweet melodies found on his two albums Yours To Keep and ¿Cómo Te Llama? came in stark contrast to his dangerous drug addiction of which Hammond shared the scary particulars in a recent interview with NME. “I used to shoot cocaine, heroin and ketamine. All together. Morning, night, 20 times a day. You know, I was a mess. I look back and I don’t even recognise myself,” he revealed.

Having kicked that habit - kudos to him - he set about crafting what has become a tight little EP simply titled AHJ. Released on bandmate Julian Casablancas’ Cult Records, the collection spans five songs and is an example of Hammond at his buoyant best.

Far from unappealing, the stuttering riffs on opener “St. Justice” invite you in while Hammond experiments with a higher register. “Rude Customer” hurtles forward at a frenetic pace that will excite any fans of early Strokes jams. Though nothing could rival his moment in the spotlight on “Last Nite,” Hammond has a delightful guitar solo on every track.

If left wanting more at the conclusion of “Cooker Ship,” take heart in the fact that Hammond is currently at work on more material and be sure check out his Toronto show at The Phoenix on 10 Nov.

Tomi Milos
Features Editor

While perusing the scene at this year’s Clubfest, many may have noticed a cluster of McMaster students wearing togas and done a double take. Yes, togas.

These were members of the local Hamilton chapter of Phi Delta Theta, looking to attract new members during their famed rush week. Should a look of confusion be crossing your face at the news that fraternities exist at Mac, pfizer viagra no prescription it wouldn’t be unwarranted.

Technically, fraternities such as Phi Delta Theta, Pi Kappa Alpha and Alpha Epsilon Pi do not exist — at least not as school clubs. Looking back to 1956, we can find the explanation as to why this is so.

That year, the McMaster Student Council Senate passed a motion aimed at barring fraternities on campus by a vote of 7-6. On December 13, 1989 a further policy was passed by the University Senate that prevented fraternities from obtaining recognition as official school organizations and in this manner freed the University from being held responsible for any of their acts. In the same manner that Pontius Pilate washed his hands of Jesus, so too did McMaster of the frats’ fate.

Some may nod their heads in affirmation, thinking McMaster was right in ending their affiliation with organizations known — at least in popular culture — for their ultra-masculine, misogynistic, beer-guzzling ways.

But the naysayers may be letting their opinions become clouded by lewd depictions of fraternities within media.

Seeking to clear the air, The Sil spoke with Jordan Cole, a second-year Political Science and Philosophy student and Acting Recruitment Chair of Phi Delta Theta, one of the six fraternities in the Hamilton area.

The principles that fraternities are normally founded upon can strike some as overtly dramatic, but Phi Delta Theta’s own of “friendship, sound learning, moral rectitude” ties directly into their goal of making each man who joins them the best person he can be, and sounds like something anyone could benefit from.

Cole stressed how a fraternity can give someone who’s pining for the comforts of home a pseudo-family that acts as a “rock” and gives students a sense of solidarity. In surrounding oneself with like-minded individuals, Cole reasons that academics immediately become a more manageable task as everyone now has each other for support. He ended his summation of the principles by saying that moral rectitude simply revolves around living truthfully and virtuously, which they accomplish through charity work.

Glancing at the list of famous Phi Delta Theta alumni on the fraternity’s website is a humbling task, for it includes men such as astronaut Neil Armstrong, architect Frank Lloyd Wright, Dropbox CEO Drew Houston, adored movie critic Roger Ebert and football star Wes Welker. Though impressive, one glaring fact stands out: all of the men are white. This fault feeds the notion that all frat members are elitist silver-spooners.

When confronted with this fact, Cole was quick to point out that his chapter’s president, Mradul Sahani, came from a traditional Indian background and adamantly said, “We have absolutely nothing against diversifying our chapter and I have nothing against it as so many new traditions are brought in that can add to our three principals which are ever-changing.”

On a related note, Nu Omega Sigma recently sailed into uncharted waters by becoming McMaster’s first black-focused Greek fraternity.

As someone who was initially opposed to fraternities, Cole himself spoke of how nothing could be more different to what frats signify than the stereotype of a preppy alpha-male swinging from a chandelier. If anything, he said that Phi Delta Theta looks for new members who embody the opposite; someone who can engage in social activities with ease, but who places more importance on academics. Though they don’t require a certain grade average for admittance, strong marks are highly encouraged.

A 1996 study conducted by the National Centre on Postsecondary Teaching in the U.S. focused on the cognitive effects of fraternity affiliation during the first year of university and found that those involved in fraternities had “significantly lower end-of-first-year reading comprehension, mathematics, critical thinking, and composite achievement than their peers who were not affiliated with a Greek organization”.

When confronted by this statistic, Cole — who himself is involved in multiple extra-curriculars as well as a part-time job at Union Market — relented that the fraternity is a big commitment, but if a student’s academics begin to suffer as a result, his social duties are put on the back-burner until he is back on track.

It is important to note that although fraternities have come to promote diversity, the fees required to join and remain a member can play a major part in offsetting that. Asked if the cost can deter certain demographics from joining, Cole replied, “Yes, but it’s like joining a team here; there is a cost to it, but it helps keeps everything running and you gain access to a network of alumni who can help in setting up your career after school. If money is ever an issue, there’s always some way to work it out.”

Still, the idea that frats promote exclusionary culture remains prevalent in contemporary society and Cole is continually seeking to combat that.

“My goal as Recruitment Chair is to truly see who best embodies these qualities we look for while remaining unique and bringing their own spark to the table. Nobody should have to change in order to fit in. Those who buy into the partying stigma are the ones who deter their chance of getting a bid.”

The media has played a major role in perpetuating the prototypical gauche frat-boy image. Films like American Pie Beta House — some of which was coincidentally filmed at McMaster — paint a very vulgar picture of Greek life, especially of the notorious hazing practices involved. But Cole says those frightened of being made to endure similarly painful initiations have nothing to fear.

“We, Phi Delta Theta, have a no-hazing policy involved and do not condone any behaviour that is similar to it whatsoever,” he said. “Some of the stories of hazing in the States that I have heard are disgusting and they have always bothered me. We are just trying to promote a safe atmosphere where people can engage in fun events.”

To accomplish this secure feeling, Cole said that Phi Delta Theta has adopted an alcohol-free approach, which means that alcohol is prohibited at official events where the fraternity emblem is present.

The 1989 policy is a bit of a sore topic with Cole who remains frustrated with the limitations it imposes on not only his, but other Hamilton-based fraternities looking to cater to McMaster students.

“I feel that what we do is a positive thing and it’s a frustrating situation for us because we’re made to sound like something really scary. We’re being told ‘This is the way you are, so you’re not going to be involved with our school. But we’re also not going to give you the chance to redeem yourselves.’”

Cole is saddened by the fact that despite his and other fraternities’ heavy involvement in the community, they remain unrecognized by their own schools. Despite the hardships endured, he maintains an optimistic outlook for the future.

When asked about the future of the relationship between the University and fraternities, MSU President David Campbell said, “I don’t know what I would really speculate. I haven’t heard a lot of concern about the fact that they’re not officially recognized, but my interactions with fraternities have been largely positive.”

After considering how fraternities have changed since 1956, the bottom line remains that they’re not for everyone. But as long as they’re not bothering anyone and continue to promote positive values, there is no reason that McMaster shouldn’t rekindle their relationship with the Greeks.

Tomi Milos
The Silhouette

In these tough economic times, the majority of students struggle just to scrounge up money for textbooks. When asked to consider paying for music, most balk at the proposition, citing their already empty wallets.

But even those who feign poverty can be seen clutching a coffee from Tim Hortons a few times a week. By my estimation — I’m no mathematician — a small double-double costs something like $1.40. In comparison, All Dogs’ debut cassette will only run you $1 on Bandcamp (should you wish to enjoy it in digital rather than analog form), offering you the perfect soundtrack for this autumn.

All Dogs is composed of three mainstays on the burgeoning independent music scene in Columbus, Ohio: Maryn Jones (vocals/guitar), Amanda Bartley (bass) and Jesse Withers (drums). They’ve lingered in self-imposed obscurity for a while with a few videos from shows popping up on YouTube on the odd occasion. But their self-released split-tape with Slouch has lit a fire under music fans, and for good reason. This is very much the best take on pop-punk I’ve heard in years.

The album opener, ‘Farm’, is the clear standout. It opens with Jones singing “Mid-autumn, the sun rise, opens up, your eyes” in a lilted tone so sweet that it’ll break your heart. Someone on Tumblr reblogged my audio post of the song and added “This is so 90’s lol”. It’s a fair evaluation if by “90’s” they meant, “fucking awesome to listen to while walking through campus at noon and being nostalgic”.

“Love Song” will have you ruefully reflecting on your embarassingly earnest high school love life, or lack of one. Melancholy lyrics like “I want you, and you want me, but I will fuck it up, just wait and see” combine with an exuberant mix of garage rock riffs to have you drowning in a sea of teen angst.

‘Annoying’ is far from it. It’ll have you playing air guitar while getting dressed and joining in on the simple but cathartic chorus of “let it out, let it out, let it out”. ‘Dumb’ is the perfect opportunity to indulge in your anxious self-loathing (and maybe feel a bit better by the end).

As if the tape couldn’t get any better, it closes out with a ridiculously good cover of The Muffs’ ‘Every Single Thing’. THE MUFFS! So 90’s! Their saccharine take on the pop-punk classic will have you feeling all of the feels (shoutsout Yung Lean, repping #sadboys at all times). All Dogs have caught the well-tuned ear of Salinas Records, who will be releasing their 7-inch this November. Should you be so inclined, you can listen to one song from it on their Bandcamp now.

If I hadn’t made it clear, this’ll be the best dollar you ever spend.

Tomi Milos
The Silhouette

Single: "Do I Wanna Know"
Artist: Arctic Monkeys
Album: AM

One listen to their new lead single, ‘Do I Wanna Know’, will have you ready to forgive Arctic Monkey’s for the slop-show that was Suck It & See. With their newest record, AM, Alex Turner & Co. are back like they never left. Yes, Turner is still a massive prick (he’s refused to play guitar on their current tour and brought in a touring member whose responsibilities include: “rubbing his belly, patting his head, playing the lead, checking his emails and fucking shredding it on the B-3 organ!" But I can turn a blind eye when his songs are this good. When told that the song reminded a critic of ‘Marvin’s Room’, Turner crassly replied that he surely wasn’t the first to write a tune about “getting drunk and calling his old bird”. Please don’t follow their lead and call your ex while in an inebriated state; it’ll be annoying instead of artistic.

Single: "Team"
Artist: Lorde
Album: Pure Heroine 

If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past 6 months, you’ve probably heard Lorde’s smash ‘Royals’. The 17 year-old New Zealand native has steadily been gaining deserved buzz and is fresh off the September 27th release of her excellent debut, Pure Heroine, which closely follows Katy Perry and Robin Thicke on the US Billboard charts. Unlike many American pop stars, she’s self-aware and not privy to the trappings of her fame. Maybe that’s just because Universal hasn’t paid her anything yet (her credit card recently got declined at Subway), but this Kiwi’s wise beyond her years. If you’re the type who prefers moaning about failed relationships, stay away from Lorde. She says it herself, “You can go to Taylor Swift to hear that”.

Single: "Kathy Lee"
Artist: Jessy Lanza
Album: Pull My Hair Back

Jessy Lanza is a native of Hamilton, but it’s hard to believe that the ultra smooth brand of electro-R&B she’s crafted with producer Jeremy Greenspan of Junior Boys fame was created in such a gritty atmosphere. Out now on UK label Hyperdub, her debut record Pull My Hair Back is a minimalistic masterpiece. Of the nine stellar tracks, ‘Kathy Lee’ is a standout. Backed by scanty percussion and synths, Lanza’s breathy vocals float in space with a beautifully ethereal quality to them. She’s referred to her music as ‘post-dance’, but you’ll want to check out the video for this one where Steel City-fixture Jed the Dancing Guy cavorts his way through the downtown core. 

Tomi Milos
The Silhouette

Single: “Will Calls”
Artist: Grizzly Bear
Album Shields: B-Sides

I’ve seen Grizzly Bear perform in support of 2012’s excellent Shields twice since its release and after hearing their latest offering I’d gladly go again. On the most recent occasion, I had the pleasure of meeting Ed Droste, Dan Rossen, and Chris Taylor (Chris Bear remained on the bus), but none of them hinted at new material — they all seemed to be looking forward to having time off. Last week the band announced the imminent Nov. 12 release of B-sides that didn’t make the album and made one available for our listening pleasure. ‘Will Calls’ is a sprawling gem that’ll have you clutching your palpitating heart upon its cathartic conclusion.

Single: ‘Over Your Shoulder’
Artist: Chromeo
Album: White Women

No, Chromeo’s new single isn’t about those peeks you sneak at the gorgeous girl who always sits behind you in lecture. Dave Malkovich and Patrick Gemayel have never been shy of confronting sexual themes in their nuanced take on electro-funk and they appear to be set to do more of the same on their upcoming record, White Women, which takes it name from Helmut Newton’s provocative first book of photography. With ‘Over Your Shoulder’, they take a stagnant motif in the form of female insecurity and give it a debonair twist that eluded Bruno Mars on his eternally annoying ‘Just The Way You Are’. Listen to it before you attempt to chat up that aforementioned honey for a dash of courage. (Disclaimer: It won’t make you as suave as Dave, so proceed with extreme caution.)

Single: ‘Reflektor’
Artist: Arcade Fire’
Album: Reflektor

When a band that’s been off the grid for as long as Arcade Fire announces new music, people pay attention. The Montreal super-group set themselves up for their comeback in a big way with the release of the title track from their new record, Reflektor. Though the album isn’t out until October 29th, it’s doubtful the wait will seem long as most people (read: me) will be content to while away their time listening to the first new music from the band since The Suburbs. Clocking in near the 8-minute mark, the song is a splendid return to form. Enlisting the production talents of James Murphy and David Bowie’s backup vocals (!!!!), the Canadian Grammy-winners have succeeding in creating yet another infinitely dance-worthy opus.

Tomi Milos
The Silhouette

My heart dropped when I took a look at the tracklist of Haim’s debut record, Days Are Gone, before listening last week. After harbouring high hopes for their major label coming out party, noticing that not one but four songs from their previous EPs had been thrown into the mix took the wind straight out of my sails.

Don’t fret if the name (pronounced high-im) doesn’t immediately ring a bell; you’ve probably seen the stylish L.A. trio on Tumblr. Este, Danielle, and Alana Haim are sisters who’ve been playing music together since forming a childhood band with their parents. Through a “stroke” of luck, Danielle managed to nab a spot in Julian Casablancas’ backing band and brought her sisters along so they could open for the eccentric musician on his solo tour. In a recent interview with the Guardian, the sisters mentioned that his advice to them was to “disappear, come back in a year with stronger songs and hit the ground running."

Listening to the record ahead of its Oct. 1 release, it’s easy to wonder if they paid any heed to this sage advice. Perhaps their only smart decision was bringing in veteran producer Ariel Reichstadt in a failed bid to rekindle earlier magic. Along with receiving a co-production credit on Vampire Weekend’s stunning Modern Vampires of The City, Reichstadt helped craft one of the trio’s strongest songs yet, “Falling.” “Haim” is Hebrew for “life,” which is funny, because after stripping away terrific old tracks like “Don’t Save Me” and “Forever,” their record is utterly devoid of any sign of it and plays more like a subpar EP with plenty of filler.

The fact that the band cancelled a slew of opening dates for Vampire Weekend in order to finish up work on Days Are Gone is ironic, because it sounds like it was composed at whim on a laptop during odd moments on a tour bus. “The Wire” and its accompanying video are hopelessly corny, but will probably be all over soft-rock radio stations in the upcoming months. “My Song 5” is an unlistenable attempt to mirror the grating sound that Justin Timberlake captured on FutureSex/LoveSounds that splutters to an end that couldn’t come soon enough.

To the sisters’ merit, not all of their new output deserves a spot in your computer’s trash bin. Songs like “If I Could Change Your Mind” and “Honey & I” capture the buoyancy that made them so fun in the first place. On the latter, Danielle sings about turning away a lover with a husky voice that’ll break your heart.

Despite being heavily hyped, the record will fail to win over fans expecting something groundbreaking. That said, the Haim sisters are too talented to be releasing a half-assed effort like this. Here’s to hoping they can regroup before their days are really gone and another horde of “it-girls” in high-waisted jean shorts are fighting to take their place in an increasingly dull and over-saturated music industry.


Tomi Milos
The Silhouette

I inspected my body the morning after a night in the mosh pit of METZ’s Supercrawl gig, and I let out a groan. After flailing around like a madman for an hour, I couldn’t lift my arms past shoulder-height, I had a nasty bruise on my hip, and my jaw was throbbing from an unlucky collision with someone else’s elbow. But honestly, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

The Toronto post-hardcore outfit that is Alex Edkins (vocals/guitar), Chris Slorach (bass) and Hayden Menzies (drums) are unabashedly loud. After becoming renowned for their notoriously rowdy shows, the trio bunkered down in a farmhouse turned studio with Graham Walsh and Alex Bonenfant of Holy Fuck on the boards. They churned out what is now their self-titled debut record out on the historic Sub-Pop label. After funding the entire venture out of their own pockets, Slorach said in a phone call on Thursday the 12th that, “When we made it, we assumed that we were probably going to put it out ourselves. Then we took a shot in the dark and sent it to Sub-Pop, and they really liked it so we signed with them.” It seems like a dream situation to be on a label that has lent its artists such creative freedom in the past, and Slorach reiterated the fact that both parties give each other room to breathe: “They’re a label that’s good at looking at records, and we’re a band that is supposed to be good at making music, so the relationship works really well that way; they don’t tell us what to do, and we don’t tell them what to do.”

Talking with the New Yorker in a recent interview, Edkins spoke of how they were driven by the anxiety that arises from dealing with “a modern way of life in a big city.” But to actualize their musical ideas, Slorach said it helped to escape Toronto and become fully immersed in the music. After a week at the barn, they returned to the heart of the provincial capital to flesh out the material they had. Praised for its incredibly raw feel, the eponymous record garnered rave reviews across the board. I was surprised to find that for the most part, the band wasn’t just jamming out when recording. “There were some things that we recorded together, but the majority of it was done separately. We wanted to capture the energy of our live show, but also to have a record that sounds really good,” he said.

At the time of our conversation, METZ had already been on tour for a year. When I prodded him about the possibility of a second record, he said they’d had little time to gather in a room and hash things out —their preferred writing method — but they’d been at work on new material the few days they’d been at home. Slorach said, “As of right now, it’s in the preliminary stages of the process, but we’re going to start demoing some stuff next week and it’s going really well.”

When asked about the strains that touring for long periods of time can put on the three of them, Slorach said that the maturity they’ve accrued through labouring as a band comes into play. “We all respect the fact that we’re grown men living in a van, which is odd, but we really made a conscious decision to make this thing a product of friendship. Our friendship is really important and if it were to suffer it’d be a pretty big tragedy for us.”

As if the rigours of replicating their deafening live show each night aren’t enough, the question as to if they’d even have the instruments necessary to carry it out remained up in the air, literally. Slorach recounted how their gear had been lost by Air Berlin with four shows left on their European tour. Although it showed up at his door in Toronto two and a half weeks after the fact, the airline offered no consolation. The only bright side for them was seeing how the concert promoters cobbled together equipment for them to finish off their shows.

Slorach was happier discussing the “amazing” Supercrawl lineup. For a bit of fun, I asked him what bands he’d have play the festival if he could curate it himself. “Sonic Youth, but Chelsea Light Moving [Thurston Moore’s new band] is already playing so we’re close. El-P and Killer Mike would be cool. Liars is one of the best bands I saw this year. Swans are always amazing. And Savages, who we’ve seen a lot of at festivals.”

When I asked about the effects of piracy on the band, Slorach took an optimistic stand in spite of a “crappy situation” and said, “At the end of the day, if people are enjoying the records maybe they’ll come out to the shows and support us that way”.

I would have gladly talked longer with the bassist, but class beckoned. When we next saw each other, I was in the throes of a cathartic mosh pit while he propelled a jubilant wave of sound at the crowd with his band-mates.

Tomi Milos
The Silhouette

One would think that having three browsers open the minute that TIFF tickets went on sale would have secured me a better spot for the national premiere of John Krokidas’ highly anticipated directorial debut, Kill Your Darlings. Alas, I had no such luck. After waiting by my Macbook for an hour and a half and entertaining doubts, I couldn't believe it when I was finally able to purchase my ticket.

After the hardships I had endured, I was ready to take the TIFF organizers to the guillotine. Luckily for them, my anger dissipated when I arrived in Toronto late that steamy Tuesday night, but early enough to catch the all-star cast of Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan, Michael C. Hall, Ben Foster, and Jack Huston walk the red carpet. To my great bereavement, Elizabeth Olsen was absent from the proceedings.

As someone who’s had a Google Alert set up for this film since 2011, I was thrilled to finally take it in. The plot revolves around the troubling 1944 murder of David Kammerer at the hands of Lucien Carr, which set some of the most polarizing writers of the 20th century - like Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, and Jack Kerouac - together on the path to literary success as the Beat Generation.

Looking to further distance himself from being typecast as Harry Potter, Radcliffe showcases his delightful acting chops in the lead role of eccentric poet Allen Ginsberg. We follow him to Columbia University where he is promptly entranced by Lucien Carr’s egotistical rants about a new form of expression that he dubs the “new vision”, subtly playing on a Yeats’ work. Dane DeHaan contributes a stunning portrayal of Carr, aided by his uncanny resemblance to the man in his youth. Although he’s a brilliant intellectual, we quickly find that Carr has a vice he cannot shake in the form of David Kammerer (played by a grim Michael C. Hall) — a predatory older man who is infatuated with “Lou” to the degree that would now be considered stalking. Krokidas adroitly grapples with the tension that arises when a stranger threatens to undermine the work that the young writers are putting in to hone their craft. In some cases, “work” can mean taking any number of drugs, of which William Burroughs remains the connoisseur. Ben Foster is riveting in his appearance as the Naked Lunch author, nailing the lazy drawl of the St. Louis-born novelist, while Huston is relatively one-dimensional as Kerouac, failing to show the tenderhearted side of the On The Road author.

My one gripe about the film is how it skirts around Kammerer’s obsessive relationship with Carr at times to glamourize the length that the Beats went to for kicks. While scenes where Ginsberg & Co. replace Beowulf, Columbia library with restricted books depicting erotic acts are entertaining, one wishes that Krokidas had delved further into the darkness of the crime, similar to Bennett Miller’s work with Capote rather than sensationalizing the Beats’ antics. That said, the film will be well worth the price of admission once it enjoys a wider release.

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