In publications both popular (Utne Reader, The Globe & Mail) and obscure (Geist, Toro), our little burg has been reimagined as an improbably cool cultural mecca, where musicians, visual artists, writers and filmmakers frolic in a post-apocalyptic landscape of fractured concrete and abandoned buildings.
The reality lies somewhere between the Loserpeg and post-apocalyptic-cool images.
But there really is a lot of music here, as evidenced by the latest crop of CDs from Winnipeg.
The fall 2003 edition of the Tab's semi-annual indie round-up has 39 entries, all released by Winnipeg and area recording artists since the beginning of the year.
Most of the following titles are available in stores that sell indie product, such as Into The Music and Music Traders (all genres), The Vinylist (hip hop) and Nyce Records (electronic). Chain outlets HMV and A&B Sound should also carry discs distributed by some of the larger indies -- and if they don't, they can order them in. Direct ordering from artist Web sites is also an option.
If there's something that interests you here and you can't locate it in stores or through a Google search, you'll find contact info for some of these acts at www.manitobamusic.com (click on "new releases").
Otherwise, shoot me an e-mail at the address below and I'll try to track down the scofflaws who record CDs and then expect them to sell themselves.
We might be a city of creative types, but marketing geniuses we are not.
THE ABSENT SOUND Another Chapter EP (2-ply): Instrumental sound art from Pine Falls, mostly comprised of guitar-based suites.
THE AFTERBEAT The Balls Out EP (Bacteria Buffet): Bouncy ska-rock inspired by 2-Tone grooves and a little punk rock, with more emphasis on the rootsy side. A promising debut.
CONE FIVE Fond Of (Conifera): Jangly, uptempo guitar-pop numbers with a boppy, energetic vibe.
THE LANES Meltdown (Linear B): A mixed bag of propulsive guitar rock and more pensive, emotional balladeering.
THE PAPERBACKS An Episode Of Sparrows (Pshaw!): A songwriting tour-de-force from a literate Winnipeg quintet led by lyricist extraordinaire Doug McLean.
PUNK & METAL
FIGURE FOUR Suffering The Loss (Solid State): Bruising hardcore, leaning heavily to the metal side of the crossover equation. Good production values.
BRUCE HALLETT Not In Anger (Independent): Self-produced garage rock by Winnipeg's Hallett, formerly of seminal local punk band The Nostrils.
MALEFACTION Where There Is Power There Is Always Resistance (G7 Welcoming Committee): Ultra-heavy thrash and hardcore with a leftist-critical political message.
AIRFOIL Airfoil (High North): Earnest rock from a young trio with plenty of hooks, plus slick production by Winnipeg rock specialist Brandon Friesen.
B.U.M.P. Therapy (Independent): Swaggering guitar rock with more than a few unironic nods to '80s pop-metal and classic rock.
RED SEED The Lines Between Us (Independent): On its follow-up to 1999's blues-rockish Feel, Red Seed moves toward a straight-ahead rock sound but retains the Zepplinesque, anthemic vocals.
VARIOUS River City Rawks Class Of 2003 (Power 97 FM): A sampler of three tracks each by five radio-station contest winners: Blush, Driver, Projektor, Steeple Chaser and X-Engine-X.
HIP-HOP & ELECTRONIC
MOON SHINE KRU Eclipse (Sure Shot): Mainstream-style hip-hop with commercial aspirations.
SATCHEL PAIGE Guy, I'm From Here (Your Brothers/Peanuts & Corn): Moody, mellow and addictive hip-hop by a member of Winnipeg collective Your Brother In My Backpack.
OXIDE Near Sighted Rhythms (Urbnet.com): A 67-minute continuous mix of house tracks conceived and produced by Winnipeg's DJ Oxide.
QUERKUS The Fire Behind Us -- Live (Independent): Moody synth pop with low production values, except for a great album-closing remix by veteran Winnipeg electronic producer Joe Silva.
VARIOUS Northern Faction 2 (Balanced): Another sprawling and impressive array of downtempo compositions by members of Winnipeg's burgeoning electronic music scene.
YY Hold Down The Fort EP (Peanuts & Corn): Brainy, definitively Manitoban-sounding hip-hop by another member of Y.B.I.M.B. Take As You Will, a piece of guerrilla journalism that exposes suburban attitudes towards aboriginals, is nothing short of genius.
FOLK & ROOTS
BENWAH Clonage (Ponchos Are Not For Them): Quirky and inventive Francophone pop and roots rock by Winnipeg's Benoit Morier, formerly of funk band Rudimental and indie weirdos Ham. Definitely worth a listen.
BURNT Project1 -- The Avenue (Sunshine): One of the most ambitious attempts yet at fusing traditional aboriginal sounds with pop music, namely rock 'n' roll, funk and blues. A sign of great things to come.
HOUSE OF DOC Sacred Blue (Independent): A rollicking country-bluegrass album with a Christian gospel bent.
MOODY, PENNER & SWAIN South Bound EP (Independent): Expertly performed traditional Celtic and Appalachian folk by a trio of Scruj MacDuhk alumni -- vocalist Ruth Moody, fiddler Jeremy Penner and bassist/mandolinist Oliver Swain.
FRED REDEKOP & ALAN POPOWICH Shoot The Moon (Independent): Unembellished old-time country, folk and bluegrass by mandolinist Redekop and guitarist Popowich of Manitoba's Keystone Bluegrass Quartet.
BLUES & ROCKABILLY
THE FARRELL BROS. Rumble At The Opry (Teenage Rampage): Selkirk's rockabilly madmen crank up both the reverb and the volume for their third album, their most hard-driving yet.
THE PERPETRATORS The Perpetrators (Stringbreakin' Records): Unpretentious blues and blues-rock by the tightest little trio on the Winnipeg blues scene. Garage-rock fans also get a bonus in the form of Toe Stub, a 90-second blast of guitar heaven.
MAGGI MAY ROBINSON It Hurts Me Too EP (Independent): Torch blues in the classic Chicago style by veteran vocalist Robinson.
THE ROWDYMEN Rubberneckin' (Ind./Spirit River): Ultra-tight rockabilly that stays true to the music's roots while updating the lyrics from tired '50s clichés.
SHAWN BERGEN Thought Control (Monolith): Rootsy, semi-confessional songwriting that alternates between sensitive-guy ruminations and sex-obsessed machismo.
MAUREEN HART-BRENNAN Heartbeat EP (Independent): Syrupy folk-pop.
ERIC THE GREAT A Painting Bled (Independent): Semi-acoustic roots-pop.
BOB KING BAND Bob King! What Can You Sing? (New Paths): Technically not Manitoban, but this recent emigré to Saskatchewan deserves a nod for a wacky novelty disc that isn't quite a kids' record. Case in point: It's Fun To Be Ukrainian and two versions of the self-consciously dippy title track.
MARK REEVES Sure Is A Pretty Name (Independent): More honest, Springsteenesque roots-rock from a Winnipeg singer-guitarist who's long since abandoned instrumental bluster for melody.
DOMINIQUE REYNOLDS Coming Home (Independent): Slick, contemporary pop in the same vein as Holly McNarland and Aimee Mann, by Winnipeg's Reynolds, one of the six voices in a capella outfit Madrigaïa.
MONICA SCHROEDER Orbit (Night Sky): A second collection of intimate and emotional pop songs by McLachlanesque songwriter and superior vocalist Schroeder.
BY THE FREE PRESS
DOC WALKER Everyone Aboard (Open Road/Universal): "Fresh and exciting in a (country) genre that's becoming increasingly stale." -- Bruce Leperre
THE HARLOTS Crawl Spaces (Gift Shop/Universal): "A fully formed, identifiable sound -- no mean feat in an era when many Canadian rock records are indistinguishable." HHH1/2 -- Bartley Kives
McENROE Disenfranchised (Peanuts & Corn): "Typical of the ultra-genuine strain of hip hop that makes Manitoba's little-known scene such an under-celebrated gem." HHHH -- B.K.
BIG DAVE McLEAN Blues From The Middle (Stony Plain/Warner): "Big Dave... shows he's proud of this city." HHHH -- Alan Small
THE WEAKERTHANS Reconstruction Site (Epitaph): "Heartbreak, happiness and the ennui in between." HHHH1/2 -- Jill Wilson