Slim Twig

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Slim Twig
Postcard issued by DFA Records.
Background information
Origin Toronto, Canada
Genres Indie/pop rock
Years active 2005–present
Labels Paper Bag Records, Palmist Records, Calico Corp., Pleasence Records, DFA Records
Associated acts Tropics, Archaic Women, Plastic Factory, Darlene Shrugg, U.S Girls
Website Slim

Slim Twig is a Canadian songwriter/ performer and film actor.


Slim Twig is the stage and screen persona created by Max Turnbull. He was born in 1988, the son of Toronto-based filmmakers, Ross Turnbull and Jennifer Hazel, and graduated from the Claude Watson School of the Arts in 2006.[1][2]

Film Work[edit]

Slim Twig played 'Billy Zero' in the 2007 film, The Tracey Fragments, directed by Bruce McDonald and starring Ellen Page. Slim was cast as 'Max' in French director Kim Chapiron's film, Dog Pound, set in a juvenile detention centre, and plays the lead character in an independent feature film produced by his parents entitled Sight Unseen, for which he also composed the score.[3][4][5] He has acted in numerous commercial productions and shorts, and scored other films.[6][7] In 2013, he composed the score for the acclaimed documentary, We Come as Friends, directed by Hubert Sauper.[8]


Paper Bag Records has released two Slim Twig EPs and two, full-length albums. His most recent LP, A Hound at the Hem, was released by his own label, Calico Corp., in conjunction with Pleasence Records.[9] In September, 2014, New York-based DFA Records announced that it is re-releasing A Hound at the Hem.[10]

In addition to Slim Twig-branded music, the artist played guitar and sang in the band, Tropics,[11] with Simone TB on drums. In a review of his early Slim Twig EPs, Pitchfork Media stated that Tropics' music is “a feral take on the Birthday Party's blitzkrieg blues.”[12] Tropics is now defunct, having added members and transformed into Darlene Shrugg.[13] Slim Twig has also formerly pursued a solo project called Archaic Women and played as part of a “psychedelic cover band” called Plastic Factory.[14][15][16] In 2009, Tropics released a cassette tape entitled SETTE.[17]

The earliest Slim Twig recordings were self-released in 2005 on a CD entitled Livestock Burn, and an EP, Dissonant Folk.[18] Derelict Dialect was the first Slim Twig EP release from Paper Bag Records, in April, 2008. Prior to that, Slim Twig self-released an EP called Whiite Fantaseee.[19] The songs from that recording (save one) were subsequently re-mastered and issued as Vernacular Violence[20] by Paper Bag Records, in August, 2008. Paper Bag later released its two Slim Twig EPs as a limited edition, vinyl LP album.

In 2009, Paper Bag Records released Contempt!, Slim Twig's first, full-length LP. He states that he created the record largely from found sound and samples set against his own vocals.[21] A NOW Magazine review of the album called it “...startlingly unique...”[22] Coinciding with the release of Contempt!, Slim created a free, downloadable “mixtape” EP entitled Spit It Twig! (Vol. 1).[23] Spit it Twig! Vol 2 was issued in the fall of 2009.[24] It was named one of the top downloads of the year by Toronto's alternative weekly magazines.[25][26] The third release in the mixtape series is A Sheik in Scores, issued on cassette and as a download.[27]

Critical Reception[edit]

Slim Twig has received considerable, occasionally polarized press coverage (in print and on the internet), with much of it recognizing his unusual adventurousness and artistry.[2][12][28][29][30] In 2008, the artist was called “an icon-in-the-making...” and named Toronto's Best Pop/ Rock Artist of the year by Now Magazine.[31] In various articles about Slim Twig, well-known popular music artists have been mentioned for comparison purposes, notably including Nick Cave, Lou Reed, Suicide and David Bowie.[32] In a concert review, music columnist Sarah Liss suggested that Slim Twig's music sounds like “...what might happen if you left a bunch of Elvis Presley LPs on a radiator, smashed them to bits with a hammer and re-assembled them for play on a turntable. In a word, otherworldly.”[33] He has on more than one occasion, and in a positive context, been called a "pop weirdo".[34] Of his music, one site suggests that "It is isn't possible to get more post-modern pop than this."[35]

Slim Twig's early interest in experimentation appeared to challenge critics looking to situate him in a pop music context.[36] One writer found the songs on Contempt! " the oddly appropriate soundtracks to confounding four dimensional art installations..."[37] Critics also have suggested the influence of cinema on Slim Twig, with one remarking on “...his compulsive soliloquist's flair, a direct but static-filled line into a collective cinematic unconscious.”[38] Indeed, in speaking about his creative approach, the artist cited his admiration for David Lynch's work.[39]

Recent Work[edit]

In 2011, Slim Twig professed to a change of direction, stating in an interview with NOW Magazine that he is "...reinventing himself as a 60s pop craftsman."[40] His first foray in this direction was a split recording with U.S. Girls, whose side he co-produced, on FatCat subsidiary label, Palmist Records.[41] The release was very well received.[42][43] Slim Twig also produced the two most recent U.S. Girls LPs, U.S. Girls on Kraak and Gem.[44][45]

Slim Twig and U.S. Girls have jointly created their own label, Calico Corp., and each artist issued a 7" single as the label's first productions. In addition to co-releasing Slim Twig's latest LP, A Hound at the Hem, Calico Corp. has released an EP, Flushing Meats, by Eric Copeland, and most recently, Zacht Automaat, a double LP by the eponymously named Toronto duo.[46]

In August, 2012, Paper Bag released their second Slim Twig LP, Sof' Sike, which garnered enthusiastically positive reviews.[47][48] Calico Corp. and Pleasence Records then issued A Hound at the Hem, in November, although it was apparently completed prior to Sof' Sike.[49] While cited as "...a pop record that completely forgets it's a pop record...“,[50] A Hound at the Hem has elsewhere been effusively praised as "...a new of the best post-glam concept albums not made in the slippery 70s”, and cited as one critic's choice for Canada's prestigious Polaris prize.[51][52] The same writer, in reviewing the album subsequent to DFA's re-release, stated that "Canada dropped the ball, failing to recognize the genius in its own backyard."[53]

In addition to re-releasing A Hound at the Hem, DFA Records is releasing Slim Twig's follow-up album.

Discography (as Slim Twig unless otherwise noted)[edit]

  • Livestock Burn (self-released: 2005)
  • Dissonant Folk EP (Aphonia Recordings: 2006)
  • Quilibrate split EP with Huckleberry Friends (self-released: 2006)
  • Whiite Fantaseee EP (self-released: 2007)
  • Derelict Dialect EP (Paper Bag Records: 2008)
  • Vernacular Violence EP (Paper Bag Records: 2008)
  • Derelict Dialect/Vernacular Violence LP (limited edition vinyl) (Paper Bag Records: 2008)
  • Contempt! LP (Paper Bag Records: 2009)
  • Spit It Twig! (Vol.1) EP (digital download: show-released free CD, 2009)
  • Slim Twig Toronto/ Le Corbeau Oslo (7" vinyl split, Best of Both Records, 2009)
  • Spit It Twig! (Vol. 2) EP (digital download: show-released free CD, 2009)
  • Tropics - Sette (limited edition cassette tape/ digital download, Popsick Records, 2009)
  • Archaic Women - The Hit Sixties (limited-edition cassette tape/ digital download, self-released, 2009)
  • A Sheik in Scores (Spit It Twig! (Vol. 3)) (limited-edition cassette tape/ digital download, self-released, 2010)
  • Tropics - Pale Trash (7" vinyl, Pleasence Records, 2011)
  • Bloodstains Across Ontario (7" vinyl compilation, including one song each by Slim Twig and Tropics, Mammoth Cave Recordings, 2011)
  • U.S. Girls/ Slim Twig (12" vinyl split, Palmist Records, 2011)
  • There's a Secret to Your Pleasure (7" single, Calico Corp., 2011)
  • Sof' Sike LP (Paper Bag Records: 2012)
  • Statement (12" vinyl split with U.S. Girls, Dirty Beaches, Ela Orleans, Clan Destine Records, 2012)
  • A Hound at the Hem LP (Calico Corp./ Pleasence Records, 2012; re-released by DFA Records, 2014)


Slim Twig:


  • Enuff Film - 2007, dir. Ross Turnbull, edited from footage from The Tracey Fragments


  1. ^ [1]FFWD: Slim’s chance
  2. ^ a b [2]Eye Weekly: Ballad of a thin man
  3. ^ [3] IMDB: Dog Pound
  4. ^ cited in The New Wave: The Hottest Names to Know in Canadian Music, Flare, Sept., 2009, Vol. 31, No. 9, pg. 139
  5. ^ [4] Sight Unseen website
  6. ^ [5] YouTube: Grish and Nub
  7. ^ [6] Slim Twig on IMDB
  8. ^ [7] Hollywood Reporter review of We Come As Friends
  9. ^ [8] A Hound at the Hem on Pleasance
  10. ^ [9] Stereogum premiere
  11. ^ [10] Tropics ChartAttack CMW Report Card Mark
  12. ^ a b [11] Pitchfork review of Slim Twig's Derelict Dialect and Vernacular Violence
  13. ^ [12] Darlene Shrugg announcement
  14. ^ [13] Tropics MySpace page
  15. ^ [14] Archaic Women MySpace page
  16. ^ [15] Slim Twig interview
  17. ^ [16]Sette review: "Popsick"
  18. ^ [17] Aphonia Recordings News. Livestock Burn & Dissonant Folk are no longer available.
  19. ^ [18] Slim Twig: Whiite Fantaseee
  20. ^ [19] The Coast, review of Vernacular Violence, by Andrew Robinson, August 21, 2008
  21. ^ [20] Paper Bag catalogue entry
  22. ^ [21] Disc Review: Contempt!
  23. ^ [22] Exclaim - Spit it Twig!
  24. ^ [23]Spit it Twig! Vol. 2 (Free Shit)
  25. ^ [24] Eye Weekly Music Critics Poll: Best (and Worst) of the Rest
  26. ^ [25] NOW Magazine: Top Downloads of 2009
  27. ^ [26] Review of A Sheik in Scores
  28. ^ [27] Slim Chance
  29. ^ [28] Indieville review
  30. ^ [29] Year End Pulse: Slim Twig
  31. ^ [30] NOW's Guide to the Best of 2008
  32. ^ [31] Click Hear: Slim Twig - "Gate Hearing"
  33. ^ CBC News, Arts & Entertainment, CMW 2008 Blog by Sarah Liss, March 8, 2008
  34. ^ [32] Review of A Hound at the Hem
  35. ^ [33] Red Hot Velvet artist profile
  36. ^ [34] Review of Contempt!
  37. ^ [35] Review of Contempt!
  38. ^ The Globe and Mail: Ten Acts You Shouldn't Miss by Robert Everett-Green and Carl Wilson, published 06/03/08
  39. ^ [36]Montreal Mirror: A pinch of Lynch
  40. ^ [37] Slim Twig interview Vol. 30, No. 51
  41. ^ [38] Palmist Records U.S. Girls/ Slim Twig 12"
  42. ^ [39] Get Bent review
  43. ^ [40] review by Paul Kerr
  44. ^ [41] U.S. Girls on Kraak
  45. ^ [42] Gem reviews
  46. ^ [43] Calico Corp.
  47. ^ [44] Southern Souls reviews Sof' Sike
  48. ^ [45] review by Alex Hodschayan
  49. ^ [46] Slim Twg blog; "...precedes Sof' Sike..."
  50. ^ [47] Review of A Hound at the Hem
  51. ^ [48] Impose Magazine review
  52. ^ [49] Alan Ranta essay
  53. ^ [50] Exclaim review of A Hound at the Hem

External links[edit]