As I sat down at my computer this afternoon to begin “working on an essay,” I was, of course, immediately distracted by the shiny blue-glow of my Facebook newsfeed. For once, though, this unintentional procrastination session paid off large.
Yes– my wandering eyes were greeted with the official poster for this year’s edition of Montreal’s favourite summer music festival. This evening, the Internet is abuzz with excitement over this year’s acts, and for a very, very good reason.
Osheaga 2016 marks the first time that Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lana Del Rey and Radiohead will grace the stage down at Parc Jean Drapeau. In fact, both RHCP and Radiohead haven’t even played a show in Montreal since 2012, making their upcoming sets this summer a much-needed return.
On top of the major headlining acts, the 2016 lineup boasts the strongest, most well-rounded collection of artists that the festival has ever organized.
More than ever before, Osheaga 2016 has something for everyone– from the electro-stylings of Disclosure, M83, and Flume to the hip-hop presence of Future and legends Cypress Hill, to the alternative-pop charm of groups like The Lumineers, Bastille, and Passenger.
On top of that, Montreal’s thriving music scene is, once again, very well-represented. This year, Grimes, Half Moon Run, Kaytranada, as well as Busty and the Bass will all be performing over the course of the three-day festival. If you were thinking that Montreal could host a version of Osheaga with only local artists, you’d be absolutely right.
But what makes Osheaga even cooler is it’s ability to feature up-and-coming artists that are about to, for lack of a more eloquent phrase, “blow up.”
Take, for example, Toronto’s hip-hop phenom (some might even say the best thing to come from the 6ix since Drake), Jazz Cartier. There’s also London-based ‘grime’ act Skepta, who’s had tremendous success the past year in the UK and Australia. But if hip-hop isn’t really your scene, there’s Toronto’s grunge-influenced Dilly Dally, Vancouver’s punk-esque White Lung, and Australia’s ultra-innovative Hiatus Kaiyote– all of whom are set to have a massive 2016.
If last year’s edition (Osheaga’s 10th anniversary) was meant to celebrate a decade of growing the summer music festival scene here in Montreal, this year’s edition definitely looks ahead to the future– and no doubt, the future is looking extremely bright.
* For the complete lineup and to purchase passes, please visit osheaga.com
Montreal band Citylake has officially reformed, albeit with one member change, and is returning to writing and recording their interesting blend of indie folk-rock, dark post-punk and 80s new wave with some psychedelia thrown in. Think Donnie Darko soundtrack. Listen to the pre-production recording of Ugly City for a taste:
Frontman Martin Saint is active in Citylake, a trio formerly known as Satori, and also as a solo performer. For over a year he has been a resident performer at l’Escalier (his next gig is February 25th). Following the very recent reformation of the band, I was able to pick Martin’s brain a little about performing and the solo versus band dynamics on stage, and here’s what he had to say:
Stephanie Beatson: What do you like most about performing?
Martin Saint: The adrenaline rush that comes with it. Every crowd, every venue, every performance is different. If it weren’t I’d get bored with this very fast. There’s always a certain element of risk when you expose your soul to the public but I choose to embrace that rather than fear it.
I like that no matter how many times I’ve played such and such song I’m never quite sure how it’s going to come out, what the people’s reaction will be. It’s a dialogue; I give all I have, leave it all out there and feed off the energy I get from the audience, and from other band members if it’s a band gig.
Do you prefer performing as a solo act or with a band?
There’s nothing like fronting a band, for me. Playing original songs and the odd cover alongside a solid rhythm section is hard to describe in words. Once you have the right chemistry with the right partners it becomes a purely instinctive thing. Since I’m doing it again now for the first time in a while I realize how much I missed it.
Still, I find playing solo very formative, a great way to stay in shape. There’s nowhere to hide. It’s something that no matter what I would never want to give up entirely.
What was the most memorable thing that’s happened during a show?
A long time ago I was playing guitar with my teenage band and some very, very drunk -and high on God knows what drugs- lady started this lascivious dance in front of me, with her jeans zipper all the way down. I kept doing my thing, not paying too much attention until I felt something pulling at my left leg. I thought it was one of my stupid male friends making fun of me but as it got more insistent I looked down and saw it was that lady. Believe it or not she then bit my leg!! I had to shake her off the best I could and meanwhile still carry the song.
I have witnesses to this story, by the way. The doorman was a friend of mine. I was hoping he’d help me out but he was too busy roaring with laughter along with everyone else…..I need new friends! The important thing is that apparently I didn’t miss a beat!
Quite busy musical times, indeed. Here’s just some of the musical performances you can catch in Montreal over the next few days…
Friday, January 29th
The Sheepdogs @ Corona Theatre
This Canadian quartet is the musical descendant of legendary Canadian act The Guess Who- their classic rock sound encompasses rich guitar leads and smooth harmonies. In 2011, the group won a competition to be featured on the front cover of Rolling Stone. Even more impressive, The Sheepdogs were the first unsigned band in history to make it to the cover of the legendary magazine. Since then, the accolades have continued to roll in, and their fan-base has continued to grow. Personally, I can’t wait to see them Friday night.
Doors @ 7pm. Tickets are $27
Saturday, January 30th
The Sadies + Lil Andy @ Le Ritz
These Toronto locals have been pumping out blues and country-infused rock for almost two decades, and their intense live performances show no sign of losing steam anytime soon. Known in particular for their New Year’s Eve performance every year at the legendary Toronto bar The Horseshoe Tavern, The Sadies are sure to put on a good show.
Doors @ 9pm. Tickets are $20
Sunday, January 31st
Vance Joy @ Metropolis
Known best for his breakout hit Riptide, singer-songwriter Vance Joy is sure to have his audience swooning on Sunday evening. Most of you have probably already heard of him, and if you haven’t, give his part-chill, part-anthemic folk rock songs a quick listen.
Doors @ 6:30. Tickets are $42
Tuesday, February 2nd
Wet + Kelsey Lu @ Le Ritz
Wet, a Brooklyn-based electronic/pop trio crafts silky smooth, and at times haunting, melodies that are reminiscent of acts like Grimes and Chvrches.
Panelists Samantha Gold and Ford Donovan discuss refugees in Canada and elsewhere and common misconceptions about them, the state of the Montreal music scene and some of the greats we lost in the past few weeks including David Bowie and Alan Rickman. Plus an interview with Ryan from the Montreal band The Holds, the Community Calendar and Predictions!
Montreal-based blusey rock band The Holds are launching their self-titled debut EP this Friday. FTB’s Hannah Besseau had a chance to speak with lead singer Ryan Setton and ask him about the upcoming show, the band and making their recent video:
* The Holds launch their at O Patro Vys, 356 Mont-Royal Est, Friday January 29th. Joshua Carey of Po Lazarus opens and the show starts at 9pm.
By the time I got off the 80 Parc bus, it was well after midnight. Small crowds of concert-goers were huddled around in clusters, smoking and chatting just outside of the doors of the Rialto Theatre where M for Montreal was kicking off. I shuffled around, anxiously waiting for a friend to arrive before heading in to check out the first of many acts that would follow over several nights of music that could most aptly be defined as insightful.
The scene’s epicenter, the ground zero of the Mile End if you will, is arguably the corner of Parc and Bernard– the location of the Rialto, and the precise place at which I began my four-day musical odyssey through Montreal’s indie network.
Almost right off the bat, I began to notice subtle, cultural markers embedded within Montreal’s diverse performance spaces. I found it interesting that the indie, or underground, acts that I was about to go see were quite literally performing underground.
The artists performing at the Rialto that evening weren’t playing on the main stage, but instead, at the Piccolo Rialto, a much tinier (let’s say intimate) stage one and a half stories below the street. I guess the implication was that these acts weren’t quite ready for the “big leagues” just yet.
As I sipped on a couple of tepid beers, listening to the likes of Calvin Love, She-Devils and Doldrums well into the early-morning hours. I found myself more people-watching than anything else. I was captivated by the amount of people drawn into this small, dark space, late at night, to listen to relatively-unknown bands.
Sure, the music was pretty good, but the word that kept cropping up over and over in my mind was communion. No, not the Sunday School kind of communion, but instead, the almost-transcendental bond that exists between spectator and performer at a small, indie show in Montreal.
The obvious question of why (why these spaces? why these artists? why these audiences?) was addressed when, by chance, I noticed indie-rocker and Montreal resident Alex Calder huddled at a corner table talking to a couple of friends. Calder, who once played with Mac Demarco in the lo-fi rock group Makeout Videotape, is now well established as a solo artist and recently released the well-received indie LP Mold Boy.
As a pretty big fan, I sort of nervously approached his table, feeling like the world’s biggest hack. Pretty quickly, I realized that not only was Calder a really nice dude, but he might help me unpack the seeming mysteries of the Montreal indie scene.
Quite casually, he mentioned that he lived “just down the street” from the theatre. What seemed at first like a self-evident, mundane piece of information actually turned into something of a “Eureka!” moment as I mulled over my night on the busride home, chowing down on a St. Viateur bagel.
Calder’s close proximity to the Rialto, and many other culturally-relevant performance spaces like it, wasn’t just coincidence. And it’s not completely convenience, either. Rather, it’s a cultural trace of an intimate, artistic community at work. The indication of a close connection between performer and performance space in Montreal.
A picture, although still fuzzy, began to form in my mind. Perhaps what draws aspiring artists to Montreal is not just the “cheap rent” (as one music executive mentioned to me in passing), but the intimate connection organically established between artist and audience.
And I don’t mean to say that it’s all sunshine and rainbows, either. In fact, the vibe at the Rialto that night was strangely disengaged, distant. But I began to get the sense that the performer and the spectator relied on each other in an incommunicable way; these indie artists needs the consistent support of a local fan base, and in turn, the fan base relies upon a network of artists to have a musical scene with which they can affiliate.
Poets would call this relationship communion, biologists would call this relationship symbiotic. Personally, I would just call it necessary in the formation of good art.
The next few days passed in rapid succession. Thursday morning, I waltzed into Hotel 10 under the pretense of free coffee and continental breakfast for members of the press. In addition to the free joe, what I also inadvertently infiltrated was an industry meet-and-greet, a kind of speed networking for festival pass holders who wanted to learn more about the ins and outs of the music business.
That morning served as an interesting foil for the rest of my weekend. It was as if I caught a fleeting glimpse at the cogs and gears that make Montreal Montreal’s music scene, for lack of a more artful term, “work.”
That night, I watched up-and-coming Toronto-based hip hop artist Jazz Cartier take the stage at Cafe Cleopatra in front of a small, but very hyped-up, audience. And on Friday, I headed up to Little Italy to check out the Blue Skies Turn Black showcase of Nancy Pants and Look Vibrant! before bombing back downtown to see Busty and the Bass perform (for the first time) at an absolutely packed Club Soda. If there’s one word to describe my own personal M for Montreal adventure, it would most certainly be hectic.
And let’s make one thing clear: M for Montreal is not Osheaga, nor is it trying to be. It is a festival packed to the brim with talented indie artists that are trying to make a long term career out of their music.
But it is also much, much more than that. It’s a celebration of a scene at work. But not just any scene. Montreal’s music scene has historically held, and continues to hold, worldwide status as a juggernaut.
The first, massive name that comes to mind is probably Arcade Fire, a band that has roots in the Plateau, and whose members continue to live and record in Montreal. Think for a second longer, though, and many more contemporary names will emerge: Patrick Watson, Mac DeMarco and Grimes.
Claire Boucher, better known onstage as Grimes, got her start in the small performance spaces and venues scattered around the Plateau and the Mile End. In fact, in her early days, when she was better known as Claire rather than Grimes, Boucher would hang out at the now-defunct Lab Synthese in the Mile End, a DIY-style, art-collective space that eventually spawned major Montreal-based indie label Arbutus Records. It is fitting, then, that Grimes would serve as the headliner for a festival that represents the scene that she used to call home.
And indeed, Grimes’ sold-out Saturday performance at Metropolis felt like a homecoming game of sorts. The floor was packed, the fans were boisterous and rowdy, the energy was off the charts.
Boucher was her typical sweet and eccentric self, taking just enough time in between some of her massive hits such as Oblivion, Genesis and REALiTi to pause to thank the audience and specifically the Montreal community that effectively catapulted her to critical and commercial success. The expectations for the show were undoubtedly high, but Grimes delivered in a fashion that not only felt like artistic triumph, but also a kind of emotional catharsis.
Indeed, the return of Grimes to Montreal validated the existence of the Montreal indie scene. In her early days, Grimes, like so many artists featured in M for Montreal, embraced Montreal’s intimate indie circuit as a place of artistic incubation. On Saturday night, her performance served as vital evidence of a scene that is not only alive, but thriving.
Here’s to many more years at M for Montreal and many more years celebrating the musical talent that this city has to offer.
* Featured image of Grimes playing M for Montreal by Bruno Destombes
With his new album Break of Day set to be released this month, expatriate Jesse Stone has been very busy working on new musical projects from his Brooklyn apartment.
Best known for his sweet raspy voice, a mix of blues rock singer and alt-country star, his music was forged here, in the fires of Montreal. And although he has left to work in Brooklyn his heart hasn’t really left Montreal, his home.
In an age of polished, soulless music, Jesse Stone’s songs are a reminder of the age of the great poetic singer-songwriters of days past: Cohen, Dylan and Springsteen. Just like them, Stone sings about the age old battle of modernism, relationships and the desire to find your place and soul in all this madness.
Hosting the open mic jam at The Bull pub made Jesse Stone a name for himself among the performers that showed up every week.
A few years ago Jesse Stone also got recognition of also being a great promoter, hosting and performing on the Bandstand fundraiser with his company Hot Soupe. Together with Josh Trager (drummer), Chad Tuppert (electric guitar) he started recording songs that would be on the new album.
Now, after a year and a half of a tenacious effort Break of Day is finally scheduled for release later this month.
Many of the songs on Break of Day are as uptempo and upbeat as a summer’s day like “Promises” and “Fisherman.” But there are a few darker tracks on the album like “Vampires,” “Don’t Come Around” and “Life is a Lonely Road,” which give the album a full spectrum of emotions as they travel through the heart of the poet, singer-songwriter. Brilliantly arranged, many of the rock songs that will make you want to dance, and maybe twist and shout, while a few of the darker tracks may make you drink, reflexively.
If you are already familiar with his music then you’ve probably heard of how he gets inside your head and tinkers, leaving behind some catchy tunes and memorable riffs. Here’s the track “Don’t Change” that will stay in your head:
The album was finished a year ago and although the sound is produced and polished yet still holds a looseness of a live musical performance. Break of Day is also very well paced giving the listener time to reflect, and enjoy the mood it generates, without coming on strong.
It’s an homage to the singer-songwriters of days past; if anything Stone has shown us these day aren’t over.
What do you get when you blend the creative outlets of short film, music and literature? You get the conglomerate known as Hollis Quarterly: as ambitious as it is inspiring, Ontario native Brandon Shantz is the brains behind what has become, literally, a symphony.
Taking his anecdotes and turning them into short films (I recommend checking out Poor Shrooms), taking his songs and turning them into wild live performances, and taking his concepts and turning them into a novel about a 24-year old man set on self-immolating at Disney World, that, in a nutshell, is the merry-go-round of Hollis Quarterly.
The latest incarnation of Hollis Quarterly was performing on Thursday (August 21st) at Cagibi; I say “latest incarnation” because Hollis Quarterly has seen several aesthetic makeovers throughout the years, from classical backing bands to member changes. With just two weeks of jam sessions under their belt, the performance was a testament to the instrumental skill of its current members (Shantz on guitar and vocals, Frances Lebel on drums and backing vocals, Jevon Ellison on bass and backing vocals and Paul De Rita on lead guitar), as they pulled together a tight set of heavy jams. Songs were laden with lyrical content that ripped at the heart and packed with powerful melodies, leaving plenty of room for beautiful musical sweet spots.
But Hollis Quarterly proves yet again to be in constant flux, a project of tenuous transience, as it has been announced that their bass player will be moving to Australia in ten days.
Says Shantz of the project, “The internet makes it easy to get things out to an audience. I think having reliable releases and innovative, eclectic work in a variety of forms on a ridiculously low budget will attract people. There’s a business model to it as well that I think will be an interesting experiment.” Planning to do seasonal EP releases, accompanied by short film and sections of his novel, he intends to have it all unleashed on the world by Christmas 2015.
Like many Canadian artists, Shantz has been, and will be, using Canadian arts grants to accomplish projects, and if the success of Thursday’s performance is evidence of things to come, this writer suggests keeping an eye on Hollis Quarterly, as this multi-faceted experience unfolds.
The past year has been great for Montreal’s music scene, and by ‘great’ I mean absolute fucking insanity. It’s well-known that this city has a booming music scene but it’s astonishing how tough it can be to keep on top of it all. We tried to have as many of our dirty fingers in as many pies as possible to bring you everything the city has to offer.
Montreal is truly the city of festivals and no one stops going out just because the temperature drops. Igloofest weekends in January were some of the coldest of the year, but that didn’t stop our contributors Heidy Pinet and Naakita Feldman-Kiss from being there and having a good time.
The outdoor fun doesn’t stop there: the end of February brought us another successful edition of Montréal En Lumière, culminating as always with Nuit Blanche, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year.
In March, Forget The Box was at Canadian Music Week, which takes place in Toronto. Heidy Pinet caught the M for Montreal showcase, representing some of the best in French-language artists from our own backyard: Misteur Valaire and Ponctuation. Stephanie Laughlin caught both sets by Ben Caplan and Stephanie Beatson had a chat with Mo Kenney.
As winter gave way to spring, festival season was really upon us. The Montreal Hip Hop Festival celebrated its second edition this year and truly established itself as a permanent fixture of the festival circuit.
Heidy Pinet is the authority at FTB when it comes to electronic music and she created a playlist as a preview to Mutek, which took place at the end of May.
June brought us the Montreal Folk Fest, held outside along the Lachine Canal and the stinking piss-fest that took over the small town of Montebello, also known as Rockfest.
Those of us stuck in Montreal had plenty to do with the 10th anniversary of the Montreal Infringement Festival taking place. We interviewed Brooklyn natives Sunshine, who played a raucous set at Barfly; caught the Infringement Hip Hop Show, where our own Jay Manafest had some words to the wise; and braved the rain for the Dumpster Dive Art Drive.
The beginning of August brought us the 15th anniversary of MEG, Montreal’s oldest electronic music festival. Festival founder Mustapha Terki spoke to us about the changing face of electronic music and the future of the festival.
Meanwhile, our Toronto contributor Stephanie Beatson found herself at the last ever edition of TO’s ALL CAPS! Island Festival, which featured performances by Hooded Fang and Shotgun Jimmie.
Taking place the same weekend as Heavy MTL was the second annual Passovah Summer Music Festival. The team over at Passovah are some of the hardest-working promoters of the local scene in the city and this year, they saw their festival double in size from last year’s. We spoke with Passovah founder Noah Bick about it.
The POP Montreal team put on another stellar festival at the end of September. We got the chance to see many of our top picks this year including Portugal. The Man, Bearmace, Crabe, and METZ.
New to the festival family, Psych Fest took place in October. Festival co-founder John W. Stuart told us how the festival came about.
Rather than partaking in the slimiest of lazy journalistic traditions – the Best Albums of the Year list – I will point out that some fantastic releases have come out of the indie scene in Montreal and surrounding areas. In no particular order, here are some of the releases that have caught our attention this year:
Atsuko Chiba – Jinn
Yamantaka // Sonic Titan – UZU
Seb Black – On Emery Street
Land of Kush – The Big Mango
Crabe – Mort de fraîche date
Saltland – I Thought It Was Us But It Was All Of Us
Sunshine – Down & Up Blues
Groenland – The Chase
Ponctuation – 27 Club
No Bones – Belongings
Blood Ceremony – The Eldritch Dark
Well that wraps up the 2013 year in review for music here at Forget The Box. We’ll start it all over again in January.
The first time I heard this EP a couple months ago, I couldn’t help singing along with it out loud. I then met Noah Cebuliak (guitar, voice) of Ghost Lights when he played a set at a show organized for the debut of my small band. Within seconds, he had the audience in a trance, eyes closed, smiles content and longing hearts. There is something in Ghost Lights’ tunes that is hard to pinpoint. Ghost lights is atmospheric, recalling the wilderness that inspires Cebuliak who is from British Columbia. In trying to find artists to compare Ghost Lights to, the closest I could come up with was a little of The Barr Brothers, a bit o’ local wonder Joe Grass and a more stripped to the bone version of Patrick Watson’s early work. “Babble from a Beehive” and “Fog Chief” are our favourites from Saltwater which is a strong debut EP that showcases strong talent for poetic lyrics and beckoning melodies. Recommended for drinking iced tea on the patio with a loved one.
I’ve been keeping an eye on Montreal-based Cinema L’Amour since they played their first show and impressed me beyond words. Since then, I’ve been anticipating the release of their first full-length album with some impatience. Limitations is finally here and it kicks ass. Limitations boldly showcases the band’s last four years of composing and touring across the country and was well worth the wait. The two piece usually performs with only one guitar, one drum kit, and an impressive loop pedal board to create an array of textures. On the album, these familiar songs are transformed into something even more complex as Saxophone, Trumpet, Tuba, and Cello (to name a few) are added to the mix. Cinema L’Amour’s talent presented in Limitations is unique and incredibly driven: a combination that will bring these guys places. Since Cinema L’Amour plays with textures and rhythms with a fervoursly dynamic kind of song engineering there is not one comparison that can do these guys justice: there’s a little bit of Buke and Gase, a speck of early Incubus, some funk elements right alongside some harder rock, at times in the same song. Our favourites are “Dedicated” and “Oh So Much”. These guys also throw amazing shows and bonanzas. Recommended at any point: day or night.
I’ve been hearing about this band nonstop for the last year or so. They’ve been called a powerful “wall of sound” by some of my most trusted musical informants. I’ve had the opportunity to hear them live once and it was pretty grand and it was then I realized what my friends had meant: this band has nine core members and an additional armory of friends who join them on stage to produce a cacophony of sounds woven together by a melody. There’s joy to the energetic chaos that ensues from Archery Guild’s music. It’s difficult to listen to DIN without getting up and dancing or getting pumped up to do something exciting in the city. It’s pretty hard to find what band Archery Guild sounds like (especially since I don’t listen to that much experimental rock) but I’d say it’s kind of like the misfit child of Sunset Rubdown and Arcade Fire. Our favourites are “Juslyk” and “Swimmin’ Out”. Recommended for hearing live or dancing to during party times.
Trade Secrets appeared on my radar when they performed alongside Two-Year Carnival and The This Many Boyfriend’s Club (whom I had recently interviewed) at l’Abysnthe. Needless to say, I was impressed and increasingly curious when TVM and local radio CKUT shot a live performance of Trade Secret’s single ‘On the Road’:
On Tuesday April 9, I met up with Trade Secrets at Bifteck shortly after one of their practice session for beers, lots of laughs, and great discussions about the local liminal music scenes. Introducing the musicians of Trade Secrets: Taylor Evans (bass), Taylor Berce (vocals, guitar), Chris Taggesell (guitar), and Kyle Jacques (drums). Taylor B., Chris, and Kyle met at Gardner Hall, a McGill University student residence, where their first musical incarnation took the form of a Weezer cover band (mostly stuff from Weezer’s Pinkerton album). For their first gig, they carried their instruments into the residence’s communal washroom, posted ‘out of order’ signs on the doors, strung up some Christmas lights, and partied away with their fellow floor mates. Last September, Taylor E., whom they met through mutual friends, joined them and soon thereafter, Trade Secrets began.
Last January they launched their first EP No Relation at Psychic City, their jam space where they sometimes hold musical parties with other local bands. Happy with the reaction to their tunes, Trade Secrets is ready to move forward with new material as they continue to perform (after an unfortunate upcoming short summer hiatus). Their EP has a recognizably lo-fi 90s alt rock feel and of the tracks “Gonna Die” and “Nocturnal” take the lead. No Relation is perfect for the thawing of winter for those who are looking forward to dancing, romancin’ and having some burrs in the sun.
In terms of inspiration and influence, the band members have a hodge podge of muses: Kyle used to play in a hardcore band called Oceans, Taylor B. likes folk rock as does Taylor E., who also has a strong inclination towards the music of Prince, and Chris is into metal and psychedelic music. This isn’t an Achilles heel, but rather they balance each other out and what makes their sound unique is the way in which their contributions come together: “The music that we make comes out sounding like a band that none of us really particularly identify with,” said Kyle, “all of the bands people would compare us to aren’t necessarily any of our favorite bands, but it’s where we end up when we play together.” The band has common ground over the songs of their youth, Weezer, The Pixies, Modest Mouse, and their round up song: “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears.
“My self-realization is that when I was young I thought that what I wanted was to get interviewed by someone on Much Music, but I realized that it’s more fun to play in dingy bars and have interviews in dingy bars”, said Kyle as we discussed the changes in the music industry in the last fifteen years. “It used to be that everything had to be mediated through a third party,” Talor B. continued, “Now with this sort of decentralization, it’s easier to form informal communities.” Chris noted the important aspect of meeting people through playing shows and through music and the kind of spaces that this can create. Performing live is an important factor in entering the Montreal music scene, which they see as having a great grassroots component which is the fulcrum of its accessibility.
Venues we’re an interesting topic of conversation for a band that recognizes the importance of supporting those DIY and band friendly spaces. Taylor E. recounted that his favorite show took place at a small cafe in Kingston called The Sleepless Goat where they played with Sweet Jets for the local crowd. The cafe transformed into a great venue where everyone had a blast, until the cops showed up to break up the party. Nodding towards band friendly places like Barfly and L’Absynthe, Taylor B added that “the music community is built on bands setting up shows themselves and that’s only going to happen if costs are friendly and more bars are open to this.” Chris agreed, adding that his favourite shows have been at their jam space Psychic City where they not only played but organized the show.
“I think there’s an unfortunate trade off between intimacy and legitimacy when you play a show. You want the intimacy of a house party, because that’s where you are directly with people. But then you don’t want to be the band that JUST plays house parties. Unfortunately, the larger more legitimate venues you play, you get farther and farther away from the audience,” Taylor B elaborated, “There’s a discernible difference between being on level with people when you play and being on a stage above them. I think we are trying to find the in between.”
In keeping with my tendency for bad puns, I asked the band to trade some secrets with us: “We have a bizarre insane addiction to the Simpson, it infiltrates everything we do,” said Taylor B. When asked which characters from the show they would be, Trade Secrets named: Carl Carlson, Hank Scorpio, Max Power, and Homer Simpson’s Stock Broker.
Catch Trade Secrets Saturday at the CJLO fundraiser (Turbo Haüs: 1180 rue St-Antoine, room 408) where they will be performing alongside The This Many Boyfriends Club, with whom a small friendly rivalry is burgeoning: “Can we get on print that The This Many Boyfriend’s Club has the best rhythm section in Montreal?” asked Kyle who explained that he has taken Evan Magoni (drummer of TTMBC) up on a friendly drum duel. We hope to get an invite.
We’d like to thank Trade Secrets for geeking out about music stuffs with us.
I first heard Les Monstres Terribles at Il Motore when they opened for Alexei Martov, LOFTS, and Photo.Real. I was immediately intrigued. Thus, right after their set, I walked up to the lead vocalist, boldly interrupted his conversation with a pretty lady, and asked for an interview with these compelling bards.
Nicely enough, Quentin Mitchell (vocals), agreed to the interview and I had the opportunity to sit down with him, Scott Wood (vocals, electric guitar), Laura Shrum (bass, double bass) and Rachelle Arsenaul (keys) at Cafe Italia in Little Italy. Mike Beaton (drums), the last (but not least) member of Les Monstres Terribles, was at a hockey game during the interview. We can respect that (even if we don’t understand it).
Les Monstres Terribles began back in Victoria, where Quentin, Laura, and Scott, who had been playing in a mutual friend’s band which out of necessity disbanded, decided to take some songs written by Quentin to the stage. They played around Victoria, even putting together and performing with an orchestra of eleven people. The name of the band was inspired by Quentin’s love of Gorillaz in terms of the plurality of the name and Gorillaz’ collaborative nature. At the time, Quentin had been working on art where he would turn inanimate objects like amplifiers into monsters. His love of the french language and ideas at the time of maybe attending McGill for music combined with aforementioned to give: Les Monstres Terribles.
Two years go by, they decided it was time to go and decided to move to Montreal: “None of us had ever been to Montreal, but we had always been intrigued by the rumors of the magical creativity that goes on around here”, said Quentin. The three friends drove for ten days, making their way to Montreal, after selling their possessions in a huge garage sale and saying good-bye to friends, coming to la belle province with no job or apartment prospects. Once here, they began looking for a drummer and found Mike Beaton who had just arrived in Montreal form Nova Scotia. They worked with several keyboardists and finally found Rachelle Arsenault, who is now a permanent member of the line up.
Their newest album Le Loup et Le Lapin, which they launched at Club Lambi, was originally intended to be a double EP. The imagery of its title and artwork is intended to depict two different sides of a coin: the darker and lighter aspects of their music. The tracks on this album, reveal melodic rock, echoes of fanfare, and a compellingly melancholic nature. Comparisons are difficult, but in an effort to orient the reader try to imagine a combination/pastiche of Arcade Fire, early Patrick Watson, and The National. Of the nine tracks on the album, “That Melody” and “ Graveyard Shift” are the standouts.
In terms of inspiration, Laura finds her inspiration in her jazz background and the carnival and circus feel combined with some pop and folk styles. Next, Scott is inspired by “alcohol and drugs”, life in general, and Tom Waits. As for Quentin, he cites “whisky, women, and woe”, Gorillaz, Portishead and Radiohead. The band’s songwriting is moving towards an experimental nature: telling stories with soundscapes and trying anti-narrative lyrical approaches. The song “Waves” on Le Loup et Le Lapin is a good example of this experimentation. Moving away from the familiar arena of heartbreak (re: Women and Woe), for Les Monstres Terribles playing with song structures and trying to keep songs interesting to play technically are strong influential factors in their current songwriting.
In light of the flurry of films like Twilight (Hardwicke, 2008), Beautiful Creatures (LaGravenese, 2013), and Warm Bodies (Levine, 2013), I asked Les Monstres Terribles which supernatural creature/monster they would like to be if they were to be in a romantic tryst with a human. Quentin went with werewolf, in keeping with the theme of their album, naming. Laura would be a hobbit, although Scott feels that she would make a better garden gnome. As for Scott, who sports a killer mustache, he would be a chupacabra. Last but not least, Rachelle would be Superman, who is technically an alien, but declined to reveal her kryptonite.
Les Monstres name Jacky and Judy (now closed) as their favourite venue in Montreal and their show at Club Lambi as their best show so far lauding the sound technician. Their next show is this Sunday, February 10th at Café Chaos(2031, Rue Saint-Denis) for Buckfest 2013.
If you’re a fan of engaging, progressive indie rock, consider heading out to Quai des Brumes this coming Thursday November 8th to see the Maritime-born Coyote play.
Featuring a line-up of boys that all hail either from Prince Edward Island or Nova Scotia, Coyote is an emerging group full of youth and talent. The five-piece formed roughly two years ago in Charlottetown, P.E.I, and they bring a Maritime rock element to their danceable indie-flavoured tunes.
Lead by Josh Carter’s unique and powerful tenor and the harmonies packed around it, Coyote’s songs are generally light-hearted and tightly-arranged, featuring a good mix of acoustic and electric sounds. The lyrics the boys belt out can be based on lofty concepts or very specific images, but are, either way, usually easy to identify with. The musical arrangements themselves are backed by solid beats and well-timed tempo switches designed to grab and hold the audience.
If you’re a fan of Modest Mouse, Paper Lions, or Kings of Leon, there’s a good chance you’ll find something to love in Coyote’s style.
They’re also known for giving an energetic live show, so stop by Quai des Brumes on Thursday night to take it in, and to give these Maritime boys a boost on their way across Canada!
*Quai des Brumes is located at 4481 Rue Saint Denis
In the same vein as my previous article on The Pinyin Pals, I’ve encountered two other fun-time Montreal-based bands through my hootenany circuit. The Argyles are a group of McGill graduates who made it their mission to rock. In its current formation, The Argyles are vocalist and guitarist Greg McLeod, saxophone player and band sweetheart Ryan MacKellar, and dynamic cousin duo Matt (drums, vocals) and Geoff Dowling (bass). Their first album, Rage and Chill, was my summer 2011 anthem and it played constantly as I travelled through the Laurentians. The second band, Alexeimartov, is a rock trio fronted by the eccentric Martin Bradstreet and backed by the Dorfman brothers, Matthew (bass) and Jonah (drums). Both the Argyles and Alexei Martov are preparing for a cross-Canada summer tour. Greg McLeod of The Argyles and Martin Bradstreet of Alexeimartov took the time to chat with me about their new releases, their obsessions, influences, and upcoming tour.
The Argyles recently released their second album entitled Mean Times. “The main themes on this album include fidelity,” said Greg who wrote all but three of the songs on the album and Matt Dowling wrote the other three. “ The way we both write songs is very much about personal relationships, gaining and losing, as well as group dynamics, we are very much interested in how people interact: how it goes right and how it goes wrong”, said Greg. “Mostly, on this album it’s about how it goes wrong, I suppose. That’s why we call it Mean Times.” The album title has multiple meanings, referring to the recent departure of graduated friends: “it went from a time of extremes which is Rage and Chill [their first album] to sort of average times, which is the mathematical mean.” The feel of the second album is quite different from their first, a move towards a more electric rock sound. Low Point, Beta Male, Get to You are amongst the more fun and interesting
tracks on the album, which Greg recorded in his apartment and mixed quite skillfully.
Why call yourselves The Argyles? “When we were first starting to play we played under different names for every performance,” said Greg, “David and the Letterman for one show, then the Warhammers, all sorts of names. Fox McLoud and the Arwings. One show we were all wearing argyles sweaters and we went by The Argyles and it kind of stuck.” In terms of their influences, Th Argyles name The National, Hold Steady and Arcade Fire. As for Greg, he is personally influenced by The Dudes and is currently on an X-Files watching binge: “I don’t really care about aliens or monsters but more so the relationship between Mulder and Scully and how it is hinted at but nothing is really revealed.” Greg also enjoys NHL players twitters and the ambiguously official @Strombone1 who may or may not be Roberto Luongo. When asked his favourite place for a beer in Montreal, Greg responded: “A depanneur.”
Alexei Martov started when Martin Bradstreet was playing on his own and met former Argyles member Matthew Kassel who introduced Martin to the Gerts open mics nights, which the Argyles were hosting at the time. Martin started hanging out with this crowd who played in low key performance spaces. Eventually, Jonah Dorfman started playing with him and Matthew joined in and that’s history. Their name, AlexeiMartov, comes from Martin‘s youthful piano compositions which he would write under the pseudonym Alexei Martov as a creative tribute to the russian composers he was playing at the time and as a way to keep piano a private area of his life. Nowadays, Martin’s influences are performers with a lot of conviction. He names emotional performers like Jeff Buckley, Jack White, Robert Plant, Pavorotti.
Alexei Martov also recently released some music with their debut EP Scent of a Wolf which they recorded with Steve Albino at Electrical Audio in Chicago and mixed with Howard Bilerman at Hotel2Tango.One of my favourite tracks from the EP is The Road which was inspired by the book of the same title by Cormac McCarthy: ”I’d been wanting to make a song about that for a while. I liked the idea that even in this dark world if you have this light in the future you can stay focused on that and it doesn’t matter what happens and everything is just another step towards that. The idea that this guy and his kid could have taken the easy way out but decide to ‘keep the fire inside’,” explained Martin, ”It’s very similar to trying to be a musician and trying to find a band. It’s something that typically takes a long time and if you are doing it because you are very passionate about it, it doesn’t matter what happens along that pathway, there are no real obstacles just things along the journey. The more positive songs I write are usually because I am trying to fire myself up when I’m not feeling positive. The Road is kind of song like that.”
Speaking of scents (of wolves), Martin is currently obsessed with smells: “I like senses, I have this sensory immersion thing going. I figure that if you are as immersed as possible in the senses of things you kind of understand experiences better and visualize them better.” He said, “I read some books about people who were really into perfume and it seemed like they had an inner nose, rather than an inner ear. That led me down a pathway of getting into the construction of perfume and the smell of wine.”
If Martin’s name and the band name seem familiar, it may be because you are someone who follows online poker. Martin started his career being sponsored to play Starcraft and his next obsession was Warcraft 3 for which he won flights around Australia: ” After that, I noticed that people playing that game at the top level were playing poker, which I thought looked way way more boring. But pretty much all the top Starcraft and Warcraft players were also amongst the top poker players, so there was obviously some sort of correlations between the skill sets. So I kind of figured I should give it a go and it’s helped me fuel my musical endeavours ever since.”
Make sure to keep an eye and ear out for these guys as they make their way across Canada!
Is there a better way to spend your Wednesday night than at Casa Del Popolo drinking in the tunes of three diverse bands and also perhaps some fine frosty beer? I think not! You’ve had Monday and Tuesday to recuperate from any weekend damage you may have incurred, and are likely suffering from a bout of cabin fever after lying low for two days. Trust me, I know how these things go. The only way to remedy that stale boredom is to get your up-for-anything asses over to Casa Del Popolo tonight!
The line-up features Montreal-based bands Drama Culture and Oliver The Great, with Hollis & The Widows joining them from Toronto. A little folk rock, a little alternative and a little grunge, each band shares similar elements without blurring the lines that distinguish them from each other.
The show gets started at 9pm with Drama Culture opening, followed by Hollis & The Widows and Oliver The Great. Cover is an affordable $5, leaving you plenty of change for a few cold bevvies.
Montreal is known for its arts and culture talent. Yup, it’s true. I mean we are designated as the arts and culture hub of Canada. But just because we’re labelled this, doesn’t mean they all make it out beyond the city. I’m not sorry, but it’s true. Of course, you always have your exceptions.
Exceptions? Yes my friend, exceptions. I shouldn’t even bother introducing them locally (yes boys I’m flattering you), but I will. Well, Montreal and beyond, meet/hear-about-again Winter Gloves. Ahhhh, yes. Montreal natives, Winter Gloves have been nationally syncing to your iPods and music devices since their second album release, About a Girl in 2008. This release put them on the “Best of” lists, including “Best New Artist” of the year on iTunes Canada.
In 2010 they took it a step further. We’re talking global, kids global. Last year, Winter Gloves released their fourth album, All Red. The success of this stellar album has allowed them to venture far and wide playing with acts such as Born Ruffians, Tokyo Police Club and You Say Party! We Say Die!.
Oh no! What? Didn’t see them? Well, no worries. They’ll be back in Montreal on August 10 playing with The Naked and Famous. The Naked and Famous yes, you read that right (over 100,000 likes and counting).
Anyway… enough of my talky-talk. To kick this HUGE show off, we’ve scored a sweet interview with Winter Gloves… only for you.
So, enough of me… and more of the music:
Travelling, sleeping (questionable), eating…how is touring going? How did you enjoy your first trip to Europe?
Nico and Charles: Every aspect of touring is intense. You get to travel, meet with your fans, and see a different city every day, but all that action makes sleep pretty impossible. You’re on a constant buzz while you’re away, so coming home is always a hard crash of deep sleep! One of the highlights on this last tour we did in the UK was being able to taste the traditional English ‘Sunday Roast Dinner’ they have at the pubs on Sunday nights.
Who has the best dance moves? And which move is most notable?
Nico: Pat Sayers has to win this one. He is our Dirty Dancer!
Do you still throw copies of your albums into the audience during your shows?
Charles: It’s been a while since we’ve done that but we love the idea of giving away fresh music to show what we’re working on. I’m pretty sure we’ll throw our next demos in the crowd again soon.
Guidance! Tell us, what is the biggest lesson you’ve learned to date…
Charles: Don’t drink and text.
What do you miss most about Montreal when you’re on the road?
Charles: Well, it depends on where we are. Good food and coffee is one thing we miss a lot on the road especially in the U.S and Canada, but personal space is a big one too. It’s a challenge to find time for yourself on the road between the driving, the interviews and the shows.
Tell us your best tour bender story of 2011…
Charles: The day we arrived in the UK last May, the van we were supposed to rent wasn’t available so we had to take a smaller model with a standard transmission. The same day, we travelled 6 hours through the night and we also had to drive a standard in downtown London. Driving on the left was very difficult with the jetlag. The following few days we had multiple tires blow, but everything came about very nicely after that!
Okay, you’re only allowed to eat either pancakes or hash browns for your entire tour, which is it (hypothetical of course!)?
Charles: I’m a big fan of red jelly made from â€˜who knows what’, so I can last a while on a sugar rush eating pancakes.
Winter Gloves will be playing with Naked and Famous in Montreal on August 10 at Sala Rosa. Advanced tickets are $15 (or 4-$9) and $17 at the door. They’re going fast, so get them ahead of time via indiemontreal.ca. Don’t be hearing about it, be there.