Sometimes it’s hard to pigeonhole a band’s sound. That’s usually a sign that the band really has something new and interesting to offer. Montreal’s The Holds is one of those bands.

The five-piece hailing from NDG (my old ‘hood) launched their self-titled debut EP Friday at O Patro Vys on Mont-Royal. A download of the EP was included with the price of admission.

Opener Joshua Carey of Po Lazarus kicked things off with a very intimate set. Alone with his guitar and mandolin until the last tune, he welcomed the crowd with some of the Po Lazarus repertoire and even a new original tune, setting the stage perfectly for the explosion that was to follow.

Blues and More

From the moment The Holds took the stage, they were in show mode. The light instrumentation that served as a backdrop as frontman Ryan Setton introduced the show and got the audience to count down from ten gelled into the first song when the countdown was done. From there on it was all energy.

When you listen to The Holds, the first thing that comes to mind is the blues. This musical genre permeates every tune they play, but it’s never alone. Their songs are also rock songs, and quite a few of them are borderline or outright psychedelic, too.

vintage projector

I’m not just saying that because of the live projections done with vintage projectors courtesy of Daniel Oniszeczko that gave the show its visual feel. There’s something trippy in the music, too.

Very Montreal

The band is made up of Setton, Andre Galamba on bass, Eric Hein on guitar, Justin Wiley on drums and Alex Lebel on keyboard. While the presence of keys in a blues rock band, or a psychedelic blues rock band may have you thinking Blues Traveller or The Doors, there is something else at play when it comes to The Holds and it starts with the crowd.

O Patro Vys was packed. Taking a look around the room, I got the feeling that I was at an Indie Rock show, something Montreal is known for. Admittedly, the fact that Dan Moscovitch of First You Get The Sugar produced their EP may have had something to do with that, but there was more to it.

the holds o patro vys 2

From the little card with free download instructions to get the EP to general atmosphere the band created in the room, the event was very tech-aware and very indie. And all this to go along with generally longer blues-infused tunes. A very Montreal experience.

It’s one you should hope to experience for yourself if you missed out last Friday and one the people who were there most likely want to experience again. We have that chance on Saturday, March 12th at Turbo Haus in St-Henri. Until then, you can enjoy The Holds at home or wherever you are by downloading their EP from iTunes via their site theholds.com. You’ll be glad you did.

* Photos by Steve Walsh

the nursery

To conduct a pre-show interview with Toronto band The Nursery last night, I followed the foursome down a dimly lit alley, where, as we were getting started, a lone wanderer passed by and commented, “are you guys a bunch of models or something? I mean, people that good-looking shouldn’t be allowed to travel in groups together. You all look like you’ve just come from a photo shoot!” I’m not sure why he felt good-looking people shouldn’t travel in groups, but he had a point; every member of this group is a babe, which makes watching them perform that much nicer on the eyes.

Looks aside, this is a very talented and creative group of musicians with far-ranging influences who come together to form something uniquely theirs. They’ve been labeled individually as psychedelic-rock/pop, synth-rock, synth-pop, electronic, indie-rock, alternative, post-punk and more, but their sound seems to me to be a blend consisting of elements made up of bits and bites from each of these sub-genres.

Their synth work is definitely a driving feature, and they use it to successfully convey the sense of psychedelia and headiness that pervades their music. The guitar work is also tasty and top-notch, and the driving drum beats make for songs that are danceable as well as lyrically and musically interesting. Frontman Alex Pulec’s lyrics read like poetry and convey deeper meaning when read beyond the surface of the rhymes. His voice connects me at times to a couple of different vocalists including Matthew Bellamy of Muse, but more often than not I am reminded of Jack White during his White Stripes years.  It’s the punchiness in the way he delivers the lines, his vocal range and the way his voice is presented in tracks like “Lysergically Yours” that are reminiscent of White.

The Nursery is made up of Alex Pulec (vocals and guitar) who does the majority of the music and song writing, Victor Ess (bass, vocals, bass synth), Jared Roth (keyboards and synth) and Jocelyn Conway (drums). I want to linger on Conway for just a moment. Female drummers are a rarity, and I’m sure there are lots of theories about why this is, but listening and watching Conway hammer on those things is watching art happen. For her petite frame, she still manages to play with such strength. Not only does she hit hard, but with speed and precision as well. She’s a keeper!

I asked the band about their formation, their writing process and what they’re up to and planning to get up to in the future. Here’s what they had to say:

Stephanie Beatson: How did The Nursery form?

Alex Pulec: Victor and I have been playing for a few years now in a few different projects. The Nursery is the first time we decided to extend beyond the both of us. We formed The Nursery about a year and a half ago.

Jared Roth: I joined a little after that and Jocelyn joined in February.

SB: Your album, Carnival Nature, has the obvious carnival theme that you continued through the track “Lysergically Yours,” which reminds me of being trapped in a fun house. What was the inspiration behind the carnival theme?

AP: I co-directed it with Devon Stewart. I wanted to make a video that you can get lost in. We didn’t have the biggest budget, so we had to think about how to create a space with pretty much no budget that could move you out of any type of typical space that a band would play in. We came up with the idea to cover our rehearsal space and studio with tin foil. We wanted to make it feel like you’re suspended.

JR:  We wanted to go with the idea of the fun house where something catches your attention, and you’re mesmerized, then something else catches your attention and you don’t like it. We think it matches the lysergical nature of the song.

SB: And the music has the carnivalesque nature about it too, so it’s all in the same vein.

AP: We wanted to play off that for the video. It’s polarized a lot of people. The jimmies that are glued to our mouths, some people love the idea and some people find it disturbing.

Victor Ess: I had someone call me and say that they loved our previous video for “This Wild Heart,” but “Lysergically Yours” made them feel uncomfortable with the candy around the mouths. It made them feel difficult feelings inside [laughs].

SB: What was the reason for using the jimmies?

AP: We wanted to do something that was fun but also had a dark, twisted edge to reflect the song. I thought of it like a mixture between childhood innocence with kind of a darker, sexual edge. But it’s mostly stylistic. There were blue, red and turquoise lights so we kept to those colours with the sprinkles.

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SB: In the video for “This Wild Heart,” I thought it was cool how you filmed the desert scenes in colour with the band shots in black and white. What does that signify for you?

JR: Again it was an aesthetic decision.

AP: To make each world its own so they didn’t really cross into each other. The black and white world that we were in had to be its own character and vibe just to keep them unique from each other.

JR: We bring the two worlds together at the end a little bit. One of the characters in the black and white world is in the desert at the end.

SB: I understand Alex does most of the music and lyric writing. When he brings a song to the band how does it take shape from there?

JR: We each get to add our own input through the arrangement of our parts, through the writing of our own parts. Alex or Victor usually will come with a musical idea which we’ll each fit our parts around, and then the lyrics and melody will come. I wouldn’t say it always works that way though.

AP: It’s very organic. Sometimes songs come in eighty percent done, sometimes songs are created at rehearsal. Certain songs have come together in half an hour of us working on them, and some are still not where we want them to be after working on them for a long time.

JR: Sometimes when that happens, we’ll take part of an incomplete song and add it to another song so it won’t be a total loss.

SB: How do you choose your subject matter when writing lyrics?

VE: It just develops. I always feel that a song will reveal itself to you as you go along.

AP: It’s that moment where you’re writing and you’re almost in a suspended reality where you’re saying something, but you don’t really know what it means yet. A moment later you go, “that’s what that song’s about.” It reveals itself later.

JR: Sometimes the lyrics pair really well with the music and other times we might have a lighter, dance-pop song with deeper lyrics.

SB: Your lyrics read like poetry. I love the flow and that there’s depth to the meaning of each song.

AP: Lyrics are the things that people hold on to. Melodies can excite and mesmerize people, but if a song doesn’t have lyrics that communicate to you, the song doesn’t have as much life.

JR: Alex has really good attention to detail in his lyrics.

AP: One thing that’s really important to me is that I want the lyrics to stand alone. If someone were just reading the lyrics, I want them to convey almost as much as listening to the actual songs.

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SB: What’s next for The Nursery?  

AP: We’re recording an album right now in Buffalo, at GCR Audio, and we’re about seventy percent done. We chose GCR after it was recommended to us. Robby Takac from the Goo Goo Dolls owns it. We checked it out and fell in love with the space. It has really good energy and a great engineer, and at this point we’ve created such a comfortable, amazing relationship that it just feels like home. We’re also going to do a tour in November and we might put out a single first before we release the full album.

They’ve got the looks, they’ve got the talent and they’ve got the drive. I daresay more good things will be coming their way. Look for them on tour come November. In the meantime, they have several videos to scout out, including “Lysergically Yours,” the other single off Carnival Nature, which indeed sounds (and looks) like being in a house of mirrors, possibly while on acid.

Support indie musicians! The Nursery’s six-song EP, Carnival Nature, released last June is available on Bandcamp.

Photos by Stephanie Beatson.

Mac DeMarco

Who is this grinning young ‘un who looks like Flea’s kid brother and makes music so lo-fi and strange that it makes you want to go running through the streets with a tall can and a lover?

Mac DeMarco is another Canadian (god, we grow good musicians here. Suck it, Slovakia) and probably a result of growing up in the 90’s. All that grunge has trickled down over our souls, giving way to music that is simultaneously full of longing for what’s been lost and rife with sounds that have no name. DeMarco, for all of his twenty four years, is already a force of brilliance, jamming in this sunny, simple way that showcases stiff songwriting skill and a style that is wholly his own. While, sure, there’s room for your garage rock and surf punk and of course, let’s not forget the new staple, psychedelic rock, DeMarco is taking the formula and fuzzing the lines a bit more; he’s really got his fingerprints all over his tunes.

But DeMarco isn’t some serious suffering poet. Or maybe he is. I’ve never even hung out with him, what the fuck do I know? I guess the reason I said that, about the serious poetic stuff, is because of what I’ve read. You know, about how his concerts are described as a “raunchfest” and how he gets naked onstage. Which, while not being serious, could be construed as a little poetic. In my opinion. (And that’s mostly all this article consists of: my opinions.)

Anyway, DeMarco has released two full length studio albums (Salad Days being the latest, released just this year) and with that comes the touring. While it’s a nice sentiment to say that music should only be about music, fans are always interested in more: they want it all, the personal life, the inspiration, the friendship and yeah, the nudity. Bring it on, man. DeMarco’s hitting up Osheaga Music and Arts Festival this year (I’ve included him in my Top Picks) and I personally am really excited, clothes or no clothes.

Mac DeMarco performs Friday, August 1 at 9:50 p.m. at the Scène des arbres Galaxie. Osheaga takes place August 1 to 3 at Parc Jean-Drapeau. 

Twin Smith

What do you get when you cross ’60s style psychedelia mixed with spaghetti westerns? Twin Smith, a refreshingly unique band out of Toronto who sling guitars instead of guns, but pack a punch just the same. Their current roster of four friends includes Dave Browne (guitar/vocals), Stephen Court (acoustic guitar/vocals), Noel Bryant (bass/vocals) and Cosimo Costa (drums/vocals).

The quartet played a set during NXNE last weekend at Baltic Avenue bar, a gig awarded to them after a promoter watched them play a previous show a couple months back. The highlights of their sound are their charming three and sometimes four part vocal harmonies, and their fun and sometimes a little quirky spaghetti western tunes that sound like they could be on the Kill Bill soundtrack. There’s also a song about trolls, and who doesn’t love a song about trolls? They’re also all very talented and accomplished musicians.

Dave Browne and Stephen Court

I was fortunate enough to chat with these fine fellows after their set and get the low down on how they formed the band, how their style has evolved into something that’s really quite different in these parts (or, probably, anywhere) and what their plans are going forward. They joked about how they were born, and then formed a band, which isn’t far off from what actually happened.

Browne and Court started playing together a whopping twenty years ago, when the call to make music in their early teens brought them together. After different incarnations of bands in the early days (nay, years), Costa joined in 2003 as their drummer, eventually moving to steel guitar and is currently filling in on drums again until the band finds a permanent fixture following the departure of their former drummer. Bryant joined the group two years ago and has become part of the family, commenting how much he enjoys playing with the group because of the level of talent and the material that each person brings. Even if they stick with the current line up, the chemistry in the group is evident and an important part of the mix, especially with all the harmonies that work in tandem.

Noel Bryant

Stephanie Beatson: When you’re writing, do you generally co-write as a group or does one person come with an idea that is then shaped by the rest of the band?

Noel Bryant: Ideas are brought to the table and everybody works with them.

Dave Browne: It’s pretty democratic, the way we write songs. Everyone’s ideas are taken into consideration.

Cosimo Costa: I like that when any one of us comes up with an idea, we’re so excited to have the other guys make it better. A song always gets better when all of us touch it.

Bryant: There’s no ego. Steve’s kind of the maestro. He makes things work in musical terms.

Browne: We’re kind of barfing out ideas, and Steve tells us what they actually mean musically. He’s like a musical modem, and more.

Bryant: He translates our ideas.

So when you guys are barfing out ideas, do you have certain sounds or ideas that you’re going towards?

Bryant: We follow a path though we don’t necessarily have concrete ideas, but rather bits and pieces and then we see where it goes and if we can make it work.

Browne: We’re so unshamefully eclectic.

Court: That’s the way to be. When we’ve tried to be any one thing, we got bored very quickly and wound up doing something else very quickly, so we might as well be a mixed bag.

Browne: We all have so many influences. We’ll never all be listening to the same thing at the same time, so it all swirls together.

Would you say your style has evolved a lot over time?

Browne: Oh yes!

Bryant: We’re playing different styles than we were two years ago, and I’m sure we’ll be doing different things two weeks from now [laughs]. It’s nice to have that freedom to play whatever. Everyone comes from different stylistic backgrounds, so it’s nice to be able to use all those different things to do whatever works.

What are your plans going forward from here?

Browne: We have to do something concrete. The thing that’s hindered us, since we started, is we’ve gone through different line-ups, with drummers and what not. And a very fast evolution of songwriting. So we haven’t been able to say, “OK, these are our songs and these are our players, and we’re going to make this album.” It’s been constantly changing. It’s been hard to nail down. There’s no reason now we can’t buckle down and do something.

Bryant: It’s hard because you feel like you’re in a certain place before you lay down something concrete, and we’ve been changing and moving a lot of the time. It’s been a bit of a troubled thing, but I think we’re in a place now where we can really do something. We’re very restless with songs.

Browne: Our biggest problem has never been coming up with material, it’s been whittling down the mountain of ideas.

I’ve seen them play a few times, and it’s true; their set is constantly evolving and they regularly introduce new material. Recently, Twin Smith have been adding some synth to some of their songs, enhancing the psychedelia already present in the guitar effects. Though they have no official recordings to date, here is a video of their NXNE set:

Photos and video by Stephanie Beatson.

The secret’s out. What started as a small gathering meant primarily for musicians to share their work and ideas with one another is now a full-blown monthly series showcasing some of the best local bands operating within the genres of experimental, psychedelic, shoegaze, stoner, ambient, noise and post-rock.

The monthly concert series, called the Secret Museum of Sound and Nature (SMOSAN) will be marking its one year of existence this Thursday, April 24 at Le Cagibi. Over the past year, the series has played host to boundary-pushing bands, including Dam Ships, UUBBUURRUU, Atsuko Chiba, El Salvador, The Walls are Blonde, Smokes, Silver Dapple and so many more.

When SMOSAN founder and main organizer Jim Demos started the series, he envisioned a collaborative space where music makers and lovers alike could discuss each other’s work with a big emphasis on the community aspect of the whole thing.

“In the music scene [in Montreal], as good as it is, I felt it would be nice to have one kind of place,” Demos said, “people would eventually get together and watch each other’s music being made and perform. People can talk about ideas, get things going. Even if they don’t come through, even if they never pan out, it’s just a good idea to get people talking.”

What really sets this series apart from others is the presence of some phenomenally good-quality live visuals provided by renowned VJs Zef and Santoz, who also perform together under the moniker Zef&Santoz. Together, they recently performed with Ghyslain Poirier at the Jutra awards after-party at the Société des Arts Technologiques [SAT]. They’ve also provided visuals individually and collectively for Igloofest, MUTEK and for Montreal electronic music duo Beat Market.

Providing a strong visual element, according to Demos, is a major part of the series’ raison d’être.

“Most of the bands who play the series are very underground,” he said. “it can be hard to get gigs that are a little more serious, have the visuals and have a really great spectacle. The bands that are just starting out, who maybe don’t have the resources, it gives them that opportunity.”

As someone who makes music for more than one project, Demos knows all about wanting to create that perfect atmosphere in a live music setting. He’s taking the opportunity this Thursday to perform some new music with composer Alex Janusz as Golden Tombs. He described Golden Tombs as in the same vein as his solo project Hellenica but more focused and meticulously structured.

“I never usually play gigs at the series because I run it. So I feel a little weird about it but I figured for the anniversary, it was ok,” Demos said.

Golden Tombs is a reincarnation of sorts of Janusz’s and Demos’ band The Dead Letters and Thursday they’ll play their first gig. They have a full record in the works, something Demos is really excited about since the project was “a huge undertaking” due to one member living in Winnipeg.

“We changed the name because we wanted a fresh start, we hadn’t done anything in a while and it felt like the right thing to do,” Demos said. “Plus there are like 30 000 bands called The Dead Letters around the world and new ones pop up every year [laughs].”

Golden Tombs will be followed by Montreal shoegaze nostalgia trip Femme Accident and avant-garde electro-rhythm quintet Avec le Soleil Sortant de sa Bouche, two bands that have been making waves in the underground music scene. Femme Accident has played POP Montreal and Montreal Psych Fest and will be playing at Canadian Music Week in Toronto in May. Avec le Soleil Sortant de sa Bouche have performed at Suoni Per Il Popolo and M for Montreal.

Booking quality live acts and providing stunning visuals has built SMOSAN’s reputation and the series’ popularity has experienced a healthy, steady growth in the past year. But Demos is not concerned with numbers nor with the competitiveness that can come with putting on shows in a city as bustling as this one.

“If you have a series or if you do shows or stuff like that [in Montreal], there’s so much going on that it takes time for people to remember that something is going on and to put in the time to follow and find out about the next one,” he said. “We’ll probably be good at Le Cagibi for a while.”

The Secret Museum of Sound and Nature one-year anniversary party takes place Thursday, April 24 at Le Cagibi (5490 boul. Saint-Laurent). The show starts at 9:15 p.m. and tickets cost $8 at the door.

Photo by Jessica Hébert for SMOSAN.

Last week on a frigid Friday I went down to the Plateau with a hard pack of Marlboro Golds to meet up with musician and visual artist David Kleiser, of The Walls are Blonde— he had orange pekoe and Pall Malls. We opened with conversation about a local hobo performer named Mike who had recently died, and how there was going to be a service held for him the following week. Our musings eventually morphed into a discussion about how communities support one another through the mourning process and how communal tribalism shares a lot of common ground with indigenous folk cultures: essentially we recycle cultural influences.

Kleiser’s band’s current project Kareoke’ eko erak is all about recycling. It’s also a clever palindrome, which is fitting as the B-side of the album is the first side played backwards. All of the songs are covers, remixes, re-hashes of different top 40 hits. Kleiser changes lyrics, keys, speeds up samples— he riffs on the echoic nature of karaoke.

“It’s impossible to be free of influence,” he said.

David Kleiser

I lit another cigarette and asked him about production, the wheres and whens and what-have-you.

“I did the final production and mixing in Naples, Florida – it took me awhile to figure out the name and face of the album,” he said. “I spent lots of time walking and getting to know the album, the arc of it. I finally decided on Kareoke’ eko.”

I remarked on the strength of having such a strong conceptual center and asked if that gave the album some of its power.

“The conceptual center is not what makes this album good,” Kleiser said. “Most people won’t pick up a lot of what’s going on – the ultimate complement would be for people to sit down and figure this shit out on their own.”

I do think that the album draws strength from the brilliant metaphor at its center, and I’m very impressed with how this pastiche of seemingly unrelated tunes hangs together so well. The album was released on tape, and not just any tape but old TDK, Memorex and Hanimex tapes. He overdubbed the album! Takes you right back to ’93.

Even the album art is a photo someone else took that Kleiser printed out in color. He explained how spitting water at printed photo caused the ink to run. Again he creates this cyclic palimpsest of influences; making someone else’s take a facet of his own – it’s this overlay that gives his work depth and resonance. Even if I can’t place the reference I sense it swimming under the surface. Kleiser likes the cuttlefish metaphor, and so do I.

David Kleiser

The album is super catchy and yet remains very tune to psy-folk stylings, there’s no plastic-y break from the underground and I, for one, respect that very much. Kleiser’s one cool guy, his roommate Ryan was super chill too, he made me promise to add that:

“Dave Kleiser manages to keep getting too high despite the amount of weed he smokes!”

Really good day and the brevity of this article doesn’t allow for me to paint you any more of a picture. Check out Kleiser’s band, The Walls are Blonde, and his gritty, often trenchant illustrations.

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Karaoke’ eko is now available on tape at Sonorama (260 Bernard o.) and Phonopolis (207 Bernard o.). Photos by Jesse Anger. Featured photo comes from The Walls are Blonde’s video for “Endless Summer”.

What do you look for in a good night out? Spiritual enlightenment and broadening the mind are usually not at the top of most people’s list.

Michael Noom and Adina Viarengo of Montreal psychedelic band NooM, have created a monthly series that aims to do just that. They’ve dubbed the events New Moon Psychedelic Mass, held on the night of the new lunar cycle.

New Age-y connotations aside, this is not some granola-crunching hippie shit where everyone is expected to sit in a circle and meditate. It’s simply a really good time where attendees get to watch short films by local filmmakers, see some good bands (Bearmace, NooM and Light Bulb Alley performed at last month’s party), partake in some arts and crafts and get their face or body painted. This Saturday’s event will also feature a paper airplane contest and group yoga.

It’s all in the name of bringing positivity into our lives and exchanging ideas that have the potential to make the world a better place, according to Viarengo and Noom.

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“[It’s about] bringing people together in a nightlife environment where you can get more out of it,” Viarengo said, “we wanted to open up room for cool activities, discussions about information and sharing different forms of art. We want to bring down limitations and have people be exposed and try things out while they’re going out. Self-empowerment, empowering people spiritually, I think that’s something that needs to be highlighted in society right now.”

She’s not talking about spirituality with a capital ‘s’; Viarengo’s definition of the word is much more casual than that.

“I think spirituality is really about an acquisition—just asking the universe the questions that you have and being receptive to the answers,” she said, “it might be in the Bible or in the Qur’an or…”

“…a Bazooka Joe comic,” Noom offered, “I was walking in Salem, Massachusetts a long time ago and I think I was seeking a mystical experience. I was like ‘I wanna experience something trippy.’ I was by myself walking down the street. A little wrapper was blowing in the wind and it hit my feet and I picked it up. It was a Bazooka Joe comic. They always had the fortune under and it said ‘never underestimate the power of positive thinking.’ I had never been exposed to the words ‘positive thinking’ before and I was like ‘that’s a good idea.’ That fucking comic strip changed my life!”

“That’s the type of atmosphere we want to set up at the parties,” Viarengo said.

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This might all sound a little ambitious but Viarengo and Noom think that the most effective way to bring about real change is by not sweating about the big picture, focusing on the self and by remembering that even the smallest gesture can lead to something.

“The spirit is us, really. That’s who we are,” said Noom. “If people are losing touch with who they are, they’re not in touch with their spirit and more in touch with institutional learning, corporations, pharmaceutical drugs, genetically modified foods, compromised manipulated mass media. Everyone’s like ‘well what can you do?’”

“I think that’s a really closed-minded way of looking at things—‘what can I do?’ Because everything you do is doing something. People should never feel like they aren’t making a difference because they are,” Viarengo added.

Noom and Viarengo understand that ideas and positivity can be contagious; all it takes is a common interest in being open. They’ve achieved this—whether consciously or not isn’t clear—by not setting up too much expectation for the people who come to their parties. If reading the event description leaves you feeling like you have no idea what this is supposed to be about, it’s a good thing.

This approach has worked in their favour. There was a diverse crowd of people and a really good vibe going on at the last one, which took place on January 30 at Café Cleopatra. Blame it on the influence of the new moon, which supposedly makes people act crazy, but there was definite electricity in the air that I don’t think had anything to do with the venue’s wild lighting fixtures.

The next New Moon Psychedelic Mass takes place this Saturday, March 1 at Il Motore. Follow Witching Hour Events on Facebook for upcoming New Moon parties.

Photos by Bianca David.

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What to do, what to do… I know: check out some of these shows this week.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 30

New Moon Psychedelic Mass: NooM + Light Bulb Alley + Bearmace + Hoax @ Café Cleopatra (upstairs)

A new monthly event comes to us from the collective known as Witching Hour Events. To be held every new moon cycle, events feature short works by local filmmakers, performances by local bands of every genre, multimedia activities and visual arts. The event’s creators say it’s all in the spirit of exchanging ideas and information and sharing creative experiences to inspire change.

This version will feature performances by NooM, Light Bulb Alley, Bearmace, and Hoax. Attendees are even encouraged to bring a small instrument or other sound-making device to use during a short jam to honour the new moon.

Dressing like an alien for this edition is also encouraged.

Free before 10 p.m., $5 after.

Pierre-Guy Blanchard, Jérémi Roy and Sam Shalabi trio @ Bethlehem XXX (6568 boul. Saint-Laurent)

Members of Land of Kush, PACHA, and part of the Constellation Records family, the trio will perform an early set at a Little Italy food joint owned by musician, artist and chef Beaver Sheppard.

Show starts at 6 p.m. and ends at 9 p.m., $7.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 31

Trade Secrets + Archery Guild + Formalists + Blood @ Brasserie Beaubien

Doors at 9 p.m., $5.

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 2

Lymbyc Systym + Arms and Sleepers + Atsuko Chiba @ Il Motore

Doors open at 8:30 p.m., $10/$12.

Bass Drum of Death + Alex Calder @ Casa del Popolo

Doors open at 8 p.m., $8/$10.

Twin Smith delivered a strong set this weekend – despite being short one member – at Measure, a restaurant/bar in Toronto. The group is tight, and one of the most enjoyable features are the two and three part vocal harmonies shared between the two guitar players and the bassist. How would I describe their sound? Psychedelic rock meets old-time spaghetti Western. Think Kill Bill (I overheard an audience member comment that their music should be in a Quentin Tarantino film).

They were the last band to play on Friday, but despite the approaching late hour, they retained their audience who were enthusiastically clapping along until the bar closed. Two young chaps who were very inebriated took their excitement over the music to the extreme, acting out dramatic scenes through dance for the entire set. It was pretty ridiculous, and fun to watch, albeit a bit distracting. I’m not sure how the band members managed to keep a straight face while these two were acting out scenes from a Western shoot-em-up movie basically on stage, sound effects and all, but they did. They even thanked their “interpretive dancers” and played a song about trolls for them, an irony which I think was lost on them but everyone else found quite amusing.

They’re building up a nice local fan base, but don’t have many recordings of videos out yet. In this clip, the video quality is shite, but you can get a sense of their unique and fun sound. They’re even tighter and stronger now, so if you happen to be in the area when they’re playing, check out a show. They’re quite a force live!

This year, Montreal further solidified its reputation as one of the most important music cities in the world. Our position as one of the great music capitals has never been in dispute, but we were missing something that other cities with major music scenes had: a psychedelic music festival.

Montreal Psych Fest founders John W. Stuart and David Lines were thinking along these lines when they decided to put together a festival that celebrates psychedelic music in all its forms. However, it seems somebody else had beat them to it.

“I got an email from Tasha Class, who had put on a festival last year, and was like ‘Hey, what are you doing? I thought I was doing Psych Fest?’ So we all teamed up and moved forward with it,” said Stuart.

This year’s festival was built upon Class’ one-night event last year and has grown to include over 20 local acts over a span of four days. The team already has plans to expand for next year’s edition by organizing psych-themed events throughout the year. Like Psych & Draw, an event that encourages participants to trip out their sketchbooks while listening to a selection of psychedelic music.

With the current resurgence of psychedelic music, the festival can only get bigger.

“[Psychedelic music] has always been present in the scene here but it sort of morphed and changed over the years,” Stuart said. “There is a really big resurgence with all the bands playing the festival, but also on a higher level with bands like The Besnard Lakes, Yamantaka // Sonic Titan and Elephant Stone. All these bands are doing quite well and they all have an element of psychedelia in their music.”

The key word here is element. In accordance with the traditionally open nature of the psychedelic movement, Stuart says that you don’t have to sound like The 13th Floor Elevators to be included in Montreal Psych Fest. This is clear when you look at this year’s lineup, which includes bands that incorporate an array of genres, sounds and instruments in their music.

One thing you can expect from every band is a far-out sensory experience. The best way to approach this is to give your mind up to the music and enjoy the trip. In the immortal words of Timothy Leary: Turn on, tune in and drop out.

Here’s a small selection of bands playing the Montreal Psych Fest:

Melted Faces – The Dhalias + Melted Faces + El Napoleon + Femme Accident
October 11, 3:15 a.m. @ TBA 

This band is what happens when you blend traditional, 60s-influenced psychedelic rock with garage and punk. The result is delightfully dissonant and decidedly danceable.

El Napoleon
October 11, 3:45 a.m. @ TBA

One-man solo project El Napoleon also has a heavy emphasis on garage-y, punk sounds. There are some unconventional surprises here as well, like the inclusion of a sitar.

Atsuko Chiba – The Hazelles + UUBBUURRUU + Atsuko Chiba + Psyche Tongues
October 12, midnight @ L’Escogriffe (7275 Sherbrooke e.)

This experimental 5-piece instrumental band blends elements of psychedelic, post-rock, metal and post-punk to create an otherworldly sound reminiscent of bands like Russian Circles, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Thee Silver Mt. Zion (watch this space for an upcoming interview with the band!).

Syngja – Will Eizlini + Hellenica + Syngja
October 13, 9 p.m. @ Le Cagibi (5490 boul. Saint-Laurent)

Inspired by Icelandic folk music, Syngja weaves electronic and analog elements into their dreamy psychedelic pop to really make you feel like you’re in an enchanted forest somewhere far away.

Montreal Psych Fest runs from October 10-13. For more info on the lineup, see their MontrealPsychFest.com

California-based record store and label Burger Records has become an important institution for contemporary garage rock, post-punk and neo-psychedelic music. Burger bands have a penchant for adopting old-school aesthetics and sounds. The label is credited for the current cassette tape obsession in Orange County that has since spread across the U. S., helped along with “A Tape A Day, OK??” whereby the label released a new tape from a different band every day of the month of January.

Burgerama started out in 2012 as an annual festival in California. They’ve since brought Burgerama to other cities including Paris, Stockholm, Milan, Melbourne and Tel Aviv. This fall, they launched the first-ever North American Burgerama Caravan of Stars Tour, which they equate to “the greatness of a traveling In-N-Out Burger (if only that was a real thing).” Tonight, we’re promised a caravan and some Burger stars when the tour stops in Montreal for a show at Il Motore.

The lineup features Pangea, The Cosmonauts, Gap Dream, and headliners The Growlers. Show is at 8 p.m., $16 at the door.

The Growlers are a self-described “beach goth” band that blends elements of 60s pop, psychedelia, and surf rock.

One man outfit Gap Dream blends garage and krautrock influences to create a unique sound that can’t be tied to any time, place or genre.

The Cosmonauts blend drone-pop and fuzzy guitars to create a sound that they describe as a glimpse into Southern Californian drug-addled rock ‘n’ roll of the 21st century.

Together PANGEA (formerly known simply as Pangea) started off as a collection of recordings done on a 4-track tape machine when lead singer William Keegan was but a teenager. They’ve since played shows with the likes of Wavves, The Black Lips, and King Khan & The Shrines.

When it comes to the live concert experience, we expect a lot from the artists up on stage. But what about the crowd? If we demand that an audience display as much energy and excitement as we’ve come to expect from our favourite bands, every show would be like the ORG713 show that happened at Sala Rossa last Thursday.

Most of the crowd were very happily and exuberantly dancing along to every song. As one girl at the show put it, it was as if they were all competing to see who can dance in the most psychotic fashion. Indeed, most people looked like they had lost their minds from sheer joy and good times.

This much frenetic, arrhythmic movement is usually reserved for the most brutal heavy metal mosh pits. But there was a style and grace to the dancing people not present at louder, heavier shows.

The show featured Montreal bands The Haiduks, Blood and Archery Guild. Headlining was Toronto-based psychedelic outfit Ostrich Tuning.

The Haiduks’ psychedelic 60s pop started the show off on the right foot. Their warm sound has a tendency to envelop you in a fuzzy blanket of comfort and make you feel a little zoned-out and loopy.

Just when you were feeling nice and relaxed, spanking-new band Blood took the stage. Founding member and show organizer David Kleiser describes Blood as “Elephant 6 forming a KC and the Sunshine Band cover band.” This is when the crazy dancing started. The lights were off and some very trippy footage from obscure old films was playing on a big screen behind the band.

The captivating visuals continued when Archery Guild took the stage. The lights were back on and all nine (and sometimes ten) band members could be properly seen. Sala Rossa is a great venue to see bands with big lineups and even bigger sounds. There’s something about the way those chandeliers and the velvety red curtains get reflected in brass instruments. It makes you feel like you’re in another time.

In all honesty, I missed Ostrich Tuning’s set. The show started well past the advertised start time of 8 p.m. and I wasn’t able to stay until the end. I can imagine how their darker, moodier brand of psychedelic indie rock brought the entire evening to a beautiful culmination.

This video nicely captures the essence of the show, minus the amazing music.

ORG is a multimedia creative collective made up of musicians, artists and filmmakers. They regularly schedule events to showcase music, zines, comics, posters and other pieces of art from members and friends. To read more about the collective, see Pamela Fillion’s interview with David Kleiser.

Archery Guild

Photos by Bianca David.