Lutra Lutra- ‘Psychopath and the Philosopher’ Review

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

This Saturday, Dec. 15th, Lutra Lutra will release their new album, ‘Psychopath and the Philosopher’ at the Polar Park Brewing Co. You can get your tickets to the event here.

‘Psychopath and the Philosopher’ is the group’s first full length LP, and follows their 2016 debut EP, the self-titled ‘Lutra Lutra’. I reviewed the EP here, and have kept it in rotation long after the duties of the reviewer were passed. The funky grooves and witty lyricism have kept me coming back time and again, so when guitarist and lead vocalist Garreth Burrows offered me the chance to review the new LP, I was happy to oblige.

Lutra Lutra are an Edmonton, AB, based band that have been making a respectable mark on the local scene. For more about their live shows, see my review here. Garreth’s sister Katrina Burrows acts as the groups keyboardist and backup vocalist, with Denis Frigon on the drums, and Will Smith playing the bass.

Being an ardent fan of the EP, I must admit some apprehension when Garreth explained that this album was going to be a bit different. While the band’s lineup is unchanged since the EP, Lutra Lutra opted this time to work with a professional producer with a lot of unique input into the sound. This, he explained, meant less of a free-wheeling jazzy sound, and more hard-hitting rock.

With that in my mind, I sat down to discover just what sort of beast Lutra Lutra had grown into on ‘Psychopath and the Philosopher’.

1. Psychopath and the Philosopher-

The album opens with its title track, ‘Psychopath and the Philosopher’. From the get-go, it’s clear Garreth meant what he said. The titular track brings a powerful, enduring engine of sound. The lyrics match the more in-your-face tone—conjuring images of domestic battery and psychological abuse which Garreth explains are inspired by his cats.

The sound is harder, faster, and a great deal more layered. It’s a clear evolution from the group’s debut EP, yet, Lutra Lutra still maintain their jam-band vibe, trailing off into long, groovy bridges before slamming back into their hard-rocking refrains.

This newfound intensity is further reinforced with the follow-up track, ‘Devils Give’.

2. Devils Give-

This track gives merit to the ‘Philosopher’ in the album’s title. ‘Devils Give’ opens up with a softer tone, slowly building intensity towards a chorus which laments feeling lost amid the moral confusion of modern living.

This track reminds us of Lutra Lutra’s well established ability to mix catchy riffs with potent ponderings, as it waxes about the constraints of conventional ethical weathervanes and the relative freedom of less constrained living.

‘I know we’re all deranged, when devils give and angels take, though we’ll pay for our mistakes…’. This song brings a more contemporary focus than past songs have, and we’ll see more of that to come.

3. Two States-

‘Two States’ was written by drummer Denis Frigon during his time in the middle-east, and opens with a quick riff of guitar and drums before Garreth opens into lyrics of wanderlust and yearning for more. The chorus reflects on the turmoil of seeing both sides of difficult situations.

‘Two States’ moves fast, and its energetic rhythm keeps the song moving with the intensity of its subject matter. ‘Falling to pieces all the time,’ the chorus ends, and on it’s final refrain Garreth’s visceral scream is a chilling exclamation point on the song’s compelling journey.

4. Lost the War-

If ‘Two States’ opened subtly, this one explodes. Straight into the title line with a kick of the drums and a heavy bassline, it stampedes out of the gate with a catchy groove. The song’s immediate catchiness is amplified by the regular harmonizing of organist Katrina Burrows.

The previous tone of sorrow and futility carries over into this song—an interesting contrast to the recurring themes of light and better times on the group’s EP. ‘I can’t seem to believe, everything I read, And it’s hurting my head, it hurts my head, I should have stayed in bed. We’ve lost the war,’ is the familiar refrain of this song, but if the implications are sombre, this dirge maintains the charge of its rhythm section and playful guitar work to ensure this tale of loss is moving in both senses of the word.

5. The Apology-

Building slowly in volume and intensity, ‘The Apology’ is a break down confession of a desperate voice, realizing how little regret is worth, while feeling all the greater the weight of their past.

The song moves with a steadfast intensity, bringing its sorrowful condemnation unceasingly. This is punctuated wonderfully by a playful moment when the music slows and Katrina Burrows softly sings, ‘It’s not the real me,’ capturing beautifully the themes of self-loathing and fear of responsibility echoing through the song.

6. Loving You-

‘Loving You’ was the lead single for ‘Psychopath and the Philosopher’, and its infectious groove and snappy lyrics show why. In a—perhaps unintentional—referential call-back to their EP, Garreth sings ‘Trying to be a king, while you’re pulling the joker around by a string.’

The song continues the tones of condemnation and loss, but its joyful chorus brings a devil be damned sense of wonder and defiance—movingly reimagining the sense of hopelessness into a celebration, and reminding us that there are some joys that outweigh any circumstances. ‘Loving You’ is a rebellion against consequence, and a ballad to the moment; which I think the finer ones may even deserve.

7. Glass Eye-

There’s been a turning point here, and this song comes in with the voice of a self-doubting teacher, striving to impart the wisdoms which perhaps had not been realized in their own life. There is a sense of nihilistic swagger as Garreth brings a growling fury to the words. The drums rage beautifully in the background throughout.

8. Tell Me I’m Alive-

‘Tell Me I’m Alive’ kicks off quick and focussed, the bass working deftly to keep the song moving. ‘Every time I lose my mind, and faith, in the human race,’ reflects Garreth. A jazzy bridge lets the well-honed musicianship of the band shine before pounding back into Garreth’s impassioned plea to feel…anything perhaps. Then the song cuts off suddenly into the playful opening tones of ‘Zombie’.

9. Zombie-

‘Zombie’ goes from gentle notes to hard-driving chaos in just under a minute, before slowing down to spotlight the powerful diatribe of Garreth’s raging lyrics.

This song has a churning rhythm that can really grab hold of you. If that was the Zombie connection, I’m all the more impressed.

‘Cause I’m a devil when I lie, and I’ll see demons when I die,’ is the obstinate admission of the chorus, a dark reflection for the penultimate track.

10. Eye in the Sky-

The closing track, ‘Eye in the Sky’, is a notable departure in style, shifting from Lutra Lutra’s well-established mix of hard rock meets jam-band groove to a prog-rock inspired track to take the album out on a wildly unexpected yet uproariously fun send off. ‘Eye in the Sky’ lashes out at the lack of control we have in our lives, and its Orwellian undertones resonate strongly with the sympathies of this writer.

‘Eye in the Sky’ is a testament to the versatility of the entire band, with the high-energy tune meshing perfectly with Garreth’s unabashed delivery of the titular refrain.

There’s less cynicism in this song, less hopelessness even. Its simply a recognition of a bleak reality, and an unapologetic ode to the fun we can have in spite of all that. In spite of the ideas driving it, ‘Eye in the Sky’ closes the album with a sense of celebration, reminding us that as deplorable as the world may be, there is still love, and dancing, and good drinks, and great music.

‘Psychopath and the Philosopher’ is a louder, more relentless album than Lutra Lutra’s eponymous EP.  It’s darker, and more polished. It hits harder, moves faster, and lasts longer. If it trades in the EP’s sense of hope, it fosters in its place a more resigned sense of celebration.

The most critical evaluation, of course, is that this album is fun from start to finish. Even more—it’s is a blast live, as I described in my live show review last week.

That’s why you don’t want to miss the release party for ‘Psychopath and the Philosopher’, this Saturday at the Polar Park Brewing Co.

Come see a great show, hang with good people, and pick up this fantastic album for yourself. Get your tickets here.

-Brad OH Inc.

“Edmonton: Unbound- Another Anthology by Edmonton Writers”

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Here at Brad OH Inc., we are thrilled to announce the impending release of another anthology by the Edmonton Writers’ Group. Like our previous anthology, ‘Between the Shelves’, ‘Edmonton: Unbound’ features stories from twelve different local writers, this time unified by the theme of their hometown, Edmonton, AB.

Through fourteen short stories, these writers take us to places as wildly different as the writers themselves. Further, all profits from ‘Edmonton: Unbound’ will be donated to support the Edmonton Public Library (EPL), who have been gracious enough to house our humble group for over a decade and a half.

Once again, the book will be available through Amazon as both a paperback and an e-book, and will be sold by contributing members of the Edmonton Writers’ Group at live signings and events—to be announced soon.

So, stay tuned to us here at Brad OH Inc. for all the information you need. The final proofs are currently in our hands, so the full release will be upon us soon. We hope you enjoy reading this book as much as we’ve enjoyed creating it!

-Brad OH Inc.

Between the Shelves Release Party and Interview with Author Mark Parsons

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Today, we’re happy to announce the upcoming release party for the Brad OH Inc. and Hal J. Friesen edited anthology ‘Between the Shelves: A Tribute to Libraries by Edmonton Writers’. The event will be held from 7-9pm on May 6th, in the Centennial room of the Stanly Milner Library in Edmonton. So come on down, meet the author’s, pick up a copy of ‘Between the Shelves’, and maybe even get it signed!

BetweenTheShelvesCoverTo celebrate this upcoming event, we have an interview with Mark Parsons, whose story ‘Bakster’s Proposition’ appears in the ‘Between the Shelves: A Tribute to Libraries by Edmonton Writers’, which you can now purchase here in either Kindle ($2.99) or Paperback ($12.50) copies. All proceeds are to be donated to the Edmonton Public Library System.

This interview was conducted by Hal J. Friesen in anticipation of the anthology’s release:

Mark Parsons has been curled up in coffee shop corners, scratching furiously in his notebook since 2004. He has several projects on the go, including Fire & Flesh (Fantasy), The Silent Dark Pentalogy (Science Fiction), and Brothers (Non-Fiction). “Bakster’s Proposition” is his first short story.

  1. This is your first short story. Compared to the epics you’ve been working on, how did you find working in a shorter medium?

MP: I actually found working in a shorter medium to be a lot harder than my larger work. I wanted to tell much more ‘story’ before and after the bookends of the finished project. I’m used to being able to waste whole chapters to immerse the reader the events leading up to more critical events in the story. I found with the shorter medium, I had to cut a lot of content in order to make the story flow properly.

  1. Is Bakster’s proposition based on something you dream of doing one day?

MP: Partly. John and Kelly are both based on a blend of myself and my partner Nicola. We dream of moving to a small town some day and we’ve both wanted to start a business for a long time. If we had the money, we would certain be running a small café right now.

  1. The resistance to literature in your story seems like it may have come from a personal experience. Can you describe one or two instances where you experienced such resistance, and how they affected you?

MP: The townsfolk are a caricature of stereotypical ‘Albertan’ culture. What I represent in the story as a resistance to literature, is more broadly a resistance to Liberal Culture. We live in a society that would rather pay for a jail than a school. Ideas and creativity are the future, and yet we collectively vote for a government that would see children, at the peak of their creative curiosity, educationally shoe-horned into “real work”. They are told that they can be whatever they want when they grow up – but it better be practical.

I know grown men who do not read. If it’s not a blueprint, they won’t even pick it up. How is a society made of followers supposed to adapt and diversify during economic turmoil?

  1. Who has inspired you as a writer?

MP: I HATED writing as a child. 100 words? I would rather give myself a haircut with a sand-blaster! I didn’t know it at the time, but my very first influence was Sigmund Brower. I met him in the early 1990’s, and even though I held my ground on non-writing, he said something to me that day that I still remember: “I was just like you.”

Those words stewed inside me until 2004 when a scene popped into my head while I was on a walk. I ran home to write it down, and the predominate character was the start of Of Fire & Flesh, my longest running work-in-progress.

Shortly after meeting my partner Nicola, she bought me “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. Working through this book, as well as the amazing support of my partner have allowed my ideas to flow a little more freely. I’m very thankful and lucky.

  1. When do you expect your next project to be finished? Can you tell us a little about it?

MP: Bill Watterson famously said, “Most of us discover where we are heading when we arrive.” I add a little bit to one story, then move to another, then create an entry for a writing contest, then an article for local publications, then back to my stories. I’d like to say “maybe 2016” but I don’t want to be called a liar.

Of Fire & Flesh is a Fantasy story that centers around a coupe gone wrong that leads to a power struggle with a mysterious evil. The Silent Dark Pentalogy is a secret Sci Fi project. Brothers is based on a true story of a Fraternity President and his struggle to turn the place around.

Mark Parson’s story “Bakster’s Proposition” is featured in ‘Between the Shelves’, which you can purchase now on Amazon.

Finally, don’t forget to come by and visit the authors of ‘Between the Shelves‘ from 7-9pm on May 6th, in the Centennial room of the Stanly Milner Library in Edmonton!

-Brad OH Inc.

“Between the Shelves”- Release and Interview with Brad OH Inc.

cropped-cropped-blogbanner13.jpgToday marks the official release of ‘Between the Shelves: A Tribute to Libraries by Edmonton Writers’, an anthology edited by Brad OH Inc. and Hal J. Friesen. This anthology is a collection of stories by writers from the ‘Edmonton Writer’s Group’, including one by Brad OH Inc. entitled ‘Neve Uncovers the Ultimate Truth of All things’.

The theme of this collection is our shared appreciation of libraries and all they offer to readers in Edmonton and beyond. The anthology is available now via CreateSpace in both digital ($2.99) and hard copy ($12.50) versions. All proceeds will be donated to the Edmonton Public Library System.

You can purchase your copy here:

BetweenTheShelvesCoverTo celebrate this release, we have an interview conducted by Hal J. Friesen with Brad OH Inc. about the content of the anthology.

  1. First things first: do you believe that people should be Corporations as well as vice versa?

That’s a great line of inquiry, and we here at Brad OH Inc. are thrilled to see your appreciation for such crucial issues. Really though, we think this may be two questions, and therefore we would be remiss to provide any less than two answers.

I’ll answer the second first, as it’s the easier answer. Let it be abundantly clear that the question of whether or not Corporations are people is no question at all: just ask Mitt Romeny! If you ignore the blathering after his key statement, we believe the point is made abundantly clear. But if you need it better articulated, you’ll find just that here.

Yes, there can be no doubt whatsoever that Corporations are not only people, but they are the very best of people. They are the creators and providers, they are the ones who inspire and build where others only talk and dream. This of course leads us to your other, more relevant question. Namely: Should people be Corporations?

This too is an easy answer—although again it requires some clarification…perhaps even a moderate touch of filibustering. Specifically, we need to discuss the word ‘should’. If we’re to take it in its proper sense, then we can say at the least that all people should endeavour to be Corporations, even if they will not all be able to achieve it. Obviously, people should strive to be their very best. Corporations are the best possible expression of humanity, and therefore we would encourage every person to strive to grow into a Corporate person. The benefits alone are outstanding: tax breaks, immortality, and utterly no risk from bankruptcy just to name a few.

Now, you may expect me to quote Ayn Rand here, but I’ll do you one better. In ‘The Republic’, Plato encourages a group of enlightened elites to lead the demos. What better expression of an enlightened elite than the Corporation? Our goals, clearly, are more evident and better pursued than the fickle worries of ordinary humans. That alone should suffice to illuminate the pressing need for Corporate leadership. Therefore, it behooves us here at Brad OH Inc. to encourage all basic people to aspire to greater accomplishments—namely, becoming Corporate. After all, an increase in Corporate presence is the highest hope for humanity…at least until we can achieve the end-goal of Corporate Suffrage.

  1. Have you or any members of Brad OH Inc ever had any embarrassing moments in a library? Any responses will be strictly off the record.

Here at Brad OH Inc., we hold ourselves to the highest possible standards of behaviour. Furthermore, we have a team of legal professionals on call at all times, ready to denounce responsibility for any perceived transgressions; so that clearly precludes the possibility of any officially acknowledged embarrassment.

With that out of the way, there is one incident we recall that may fit your need to publically deride the creative origins of our Corporate-Personhood. When we were just a young Corporate Human, we were reading aloud at a public library to a table of peers. Our chosen book was something about ‘Gnus’—those abominable animals that can’t quite decide what they are. The entire point of the book was that the word ‘Gnu’ sounds just like ‘new’ and ‘knew’, however this point was missed on our still developing phonetic-mandates. Therefore, we pronounced the word ‘Gnu’ as ‘Ga-noo’—entirely destroying the already limited humour of the book, and causing us significant lasting shame.

  1. Is Neve inspired by a member of Brad OH Inc?

Yes in fact, very astute of you to see this. There was a young girl we kept down in the copy room, from whom the name and likeness of the titular character are entirely derived. Have no fear however, the process was entirely by the books.

You see, Neve owned a small rat named Clarice, who one day managed to saw through one of the printer cables with its savage little teeth. Neve’s salary was insufficient to pay for the damages, and so, mercifully, we here at Brad OH Inc. appropriated her legal name and likeness, knowing well that we’d sooner or later find some way for it to pay off her debt. The story in this anthology is the fulfillment of that debt.

Neve has since been terminated.

  1. At what point in your own reading development did you move like Neve away from purely “happy” stories?

Looking back, we’d have to say that happened pretty early. Certainly, there were a number of happy-go-lucky stories read to us before we were officially granted our Corporate-Sovereignty, but even then, some our earliest official recollections involve having ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’ read aloud to us—and those are bitter-sweet at best.

If you’re at all familiar with our efforts—which you certainly should be—you’ll know that creation and meaning are imperative to the purposes of Brad OH Inc. To that end, we’ve found that simple, happy stories do little to address the questions so essential to the human/ Corporate experience. It’s through struggle that we grow…and heedless expansion is one of the key goals of Brad OH Inc. after all.

  1. Which Corporation has had the greatest inspiration on Brad OH Inc.’s mission statement?

That’s an interesting question. As far as our Corporate structure is concerned, we’ve worked hard to emulate all the greats: Enron, Lehman Brothers, JPMorgan Chase…all the essentials.

As far as our personal, creative goals, you probably already know that our Corporate Summary Statement is: ‘A thought conglomerate founded on the fundamental imperative of expounding erratically extreme philosophic tenets firmly grounded in hubristic narcissism.’ …it doesn’t get much more clear than that!

As for companies that inspire us on these grounds, the best example is probably Psychopathic Records. The self-founded label of the Insane Clown Posse, this label has succeeded not only in developing them from a tiny local rap act in metro-Detroit, to an international force to be reckoned with. Their dedication to the absurd has helped launch countless acts throughout their existence, and their passion for ethical-provocation and philosophical exploration is admirable. At Brad OH Inc., we hope to be as successful in providing such varied, yet philosophically consistent material.

Brad OH Inc.’s story “Neve Uncovers the Ultimate Truth of All Things” is featured in ‘Between the Shelves’, which you can purchase now on Amazon.

-Brad OH Inc.

“Between the Shelves: A Tribute to Libraries by Edmonton Writers”

cropped-cropped-blogbanner13.jpgToday, we’re happy to announce the impending release of a new anthology edited by Brad OH Inc. and Hal J. Friesen, ‘Between the Shelves: A Tribute to Libraries by Edmonton Writers’. This anthology, like our former release ‘Don’t Chew on the Sharp End of the Pencil’, is a collection of stories by writers from the ‘Edmonton Writer’s Group’, including one by Brad OH Inc.

BetweenTheShelvesCoverThe theme of this collection is our shared appreciation of libraries and all they offer to readers in Edmonton and beyond. The anthology will be available on March 14th via CreateSpace in both digital ($2.99) and hard copy ($12.50) versions. All proceeds will be donated to the Edmonton Public Library System.

Stay tuned to Brad OH Inc. for future updates on this release, as well as details on how to order your own copy!

-Brad Oates