Posts Tagged ‘montreal’

Anna Leventhal – Sweet Affliction

August 17, 2014

SweetAffliction-CoverWeb

Montreal based and Journey Prize nominated writer, Anna Leventhal, released her first collection of short stories, Sweet Affliction, earlier this spring and has crafted a subtle yet powerful debut. Most of the stories are set in her adopted city, yet as the book’s cover reveals, it is a Montreal flipped on its tête – one in which Moving Day is mandatory and sanctioned by the province, one in which Hasidic Jews socially interact with their non-Orthodox neighbours, one in which the Hippodrome is the set of a twisted reality show where illegal immigrants vie for citizenship, and one in which her characters feel justified in doing the wrong things for the right reasons.

Yet regardless of these creative tweaks to setting, Leventhal’s stories are all about her characters. She is skilled in character development, seemingly revealing so much about her protagonists, yet in reality giving her readers jussst enough to make them empathize and see and feel what her characters are feeling. A few stories are loosely connected by characters, giving us snippets of their lives from undergrad days living in a crowded house in Mile End to everyone grown up and dealing with issues like adultery, multiple sclerosis, academia, and donating sperm to a friend.

Leventhal is definitely not afraid to write about difficult subject matter, as cancer and terminal illness seem to be a motif that runs through several of these stories (“Wellspring”, “A Goddamn Fucking Cake”, and the title story). What’s more, she’s not afraid to put her characters in difficult situations as well – taking a pregnancy test at a wedding (“Gravity”), mourning the loss of a pet (“Horseman, Pass By), being exposed of date rape at a Passover Seder (“Maitland”), working at a rub and tug on Ste-Catherine Street (“A Favour”), and the list goes on.

This is a collection to be read slowly, and one that will stick with its readers after they’re done. With fifteen stories there’s lots to like here, with only a few that feel as if they don’t quite hold up in an otherwise strong collection. As a minor complaint, I find the endings of a few of the stories a bit lacking of a strong image or sense of cohesion, yet other stories like “Helga Volga” or “Horseman, Pass By” do a fine job of hitting the point finale on the head. And in the end, I had the same feeling that the narrator of “Wellspring” couldn’t seem to get rid of when I was reading Sweet Affliction – one of zzzzmmmmmmmmmm – joy.

Check out this book now.

Loscil at Usine C in Montreal

November 6, 2013

loscil

25 October 2013

Scott Morgan aka Loscil brought his soothing brand of ambient soundscapes to Montreal on Friday night, and played to an intimate crowd at Usine C, as part of the 5th annual Akousma Festival – a concert series that explores the diversity of electroacoustic music.

Usine means “factory” in English and the venue was indeed once a factory that produced strawberry jam. Morgan played in the converted theatre area, an open space lined with red brick walls and speakers strategically placed around the room. Loscil is arguably my favourite ambient artist, I’ve been listening to his music for a decade now, and this was the first time I’ve seen him play live, so I was pretty stoked to finally get the chance.

And he sounded fantastic. Manipulating the many speakers in the room to his advantage, creating swirls of sound and rhythmic bass. My only complaint, his set was too short. So often when I go to see ambient musicians play live I get antsy, restless, but that wasn’t the case here, with Loscil’s set I felt like I could have settled in for a much longer journey into his world of sound – because it was just so damn calming.

Ben Vida played afterwards and ruined that calm vibe pretty quickly with his harsh analogue attack. He sounded like a touchtone telephone malfunctioning over and over again for 45 minutes. But Loscil, he tapped into something really nice, and I wish he’d have played just a little bit more of it. Come back soon Scott!

OSHEAGA Festival 2013, Day 3

August 13, 2013

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4 August 2013

Music lovers came in droves on Day 3 of the eighth edition of OSHEAGA, ramming Parc Jean-Drapeau to its capacity and connecting over the smooth rhymes of Kendrick Lamar and the fitful strumming of Mumford and Sons – and the vibe was positive and fun throughout. This remains one of the best things about going to a big outdoor festival, the feeling of camaraderie and harmony that flows through the crowd, the sense that we are witnessing a small slab of musical history together and loving every minute of it.

The worst part is the moment of panic when you realize you are crammed in the crowd so much tighter than sardines, and sure while being right at the front of the stage is awesome, it’s also a little bit terrifying … and where the hell is that beer guy with the seven dollar Coors Light for fuck’s sake!?

The other worst part is pissing – especially if you’re a girl – the lineups were ridiculous, the stalls horrific. For the dudes they had these three-way stand-up urinal thingy’s this year which made it almost as easy as pissing in the bush, but by Sunday they were full up and starting to spill over – fackin’ nasty, but hey let’s get back to the music shall we?

We arrived just in time for a fifteen minute downpour right before Big Boi’s set, but thankfully the skies remained clear after that. Here are the shows I checked out on Day 3 of the 8th installment of Osheaga…

Big-Boi

BIG BOI

To say I was excited to see Big Boi is an understatement. Outkast was and still is my favourite hip hop group of all time. I’ve written about my love for them before and will continue to write about my love for them here, but…

So an injured Big Boi hobbled on stage with crutches and a leg brace and sat down on a majestic throne and began blasting out a medley of hits from the Outkast discography and I was stoked. But his vocals were muddied, apparently due to the fact that a speaker blew somewhere. Yet, as Big Boi ventured into his solo stuff, I began to wonder if maybe he might be lip-syncing. In fact, I am convinced he was lip-syncing. During the songs they had videos playing instead of a live feed of the show, he didn’t take a sip of water the entire set, and he pristinely blasted through his tongue-twisting rhymes as if they were…pre-recorded.

It wasn’t until the last track, “In The A”, that I believe he was actually rapping – the sound was louder and you could actually hear Big Boi rhyming instead of his vocals being lost in the mix. Overall, I was happy I had the chance to see a hip-hop legend, but it was in no way an amazing performance. Perhaps because he was injured he felt it was either he do a bit of lip-syncing or cancel the show…who knows. All I know is, I wanted more bump and thrill from the hip-hop veteran, but instead I would get that from the next performer, the young Kendrick Lamar.

kendrick

KENDRICK LAMAR

The crowd began filling up immediately after Big Boi’s set, even though Kendrick would not be on for another hour. The anticipation was high as was much of the crowd. It was an interesting mix of aging scenesters, twenty-something hipsters, and teens with their parents, all excited to catch Kendrick’s vibe on his first trip to Montreal. And he did not disappoint. Alone on stage except for his DJ, the 26 year-old Compton rapper proved he was worth the hype, coming off as a young Nas on stage, super serious, yet super earnest.

The crowd was rapt, and he let us take care of all the hooks and refrains for him as if he’s been in the game for way longer than a minute. He played tracks from his early mixtapes, his first record Session 80, and of course, the best cuts from good kid, m.A.A.d. city, which was number two on my BEST of 2012 list. Unlike Big Boi, Kendrick’s voice was loud and raw – you could tell he’d been on a tour for a while, because his voice was ragged from overuse.

Overall, the young rapper had a commanding presence, his DJ’s low-end bass was incredibly deeeep, and he showed us why we all fell in love with him in the first place.

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NEW ORDER

Fans young and old crowded around the main stage to watch the current incarnation of synth-rock pioneers New Order, as they played hit after hit after hit from their extensive catalogue. Featuring three members of the original line-up, the new wave legends proved they still had the same flair as they did twenty years ago. “Bizarre Love Triangle” sounded amazing, as did “Ceremony”, “Age of Consent”, and “Ecstacy”. Unfortunately, after three hours of standing, me and my crew needed some downtime and a bathroom break, so the first few tracks of their set were enjoyed only peripherally, but we moved in closer about half way through.

New Order ended the show with a few tracks from their Joy Division days. They played “Atmosphere,” “Shadowplay,” and “Love Will Tear Us Apart”, which they rocked out to great success. It was fantastic to see this band play live because there’s a pretty good chance I’ll never get to see them again. As soon as they were done we darted out of the crowd and raced towards the Piknik Electronik Stage with the hopes of catching the end of Disclosure’s set…

disclosure_osheaga_2013_03

DISCLOSURE

We made it in time to see the last fifteen minutes of Guy and Howard Lawrence’s first show in Montreal and were immediately transported into a hype dance party. My tired legs found the groove and we jumped and danced as hard as we could for the rest of their set. We arrived as they were playing “F For You” and the beats were crisp and the bass incredibly smooove. After the song ended they welcomed Jessie Ware to the stage to sing her track “Confess To Me” off of their debut album Settle, and the addition of real vocals heightened their performance by about ten degrees. The crowd ate it up. The young duo finished with hit track “Latch” and we danced our way through the crowd to the Green Stage to see the final show of the night, Hot Chip.

hot chip

HOT CHIP

Skipping Mumford and Sons entirely and bidding farewell to an amazing Osheaga 2013 with an impromptu glow stick party courtesy of Hot Chip was a great decision. I couldn’t care less about Mumford and Sons and many other people felt the same way as they chose to end the festival with the London electro-pop darlings instead. The crowd was full of energy as was Hot Chip who played an assortment of their best dance cuts: “Over and Over”, “Boy From School”, “Ready For The Floor”, “How Do You Do?”, “Flutes”, and more. The only problem was the set was too short, they didn’t get a chance to slow it down at all, and although yes we came to have one last dance before the festival was over, it would’ve been nice to hear a few of their slower tracks. Still, it was the perfect way to end an excellent OSHEAGA.

Don’t miss it next year! Cheers.

crew

AA Restaurant – Saint Henri

June 23, 2013

best poutine

Arguably one of the finest poutines in town! Double A Restaurant on Nôtre Dame in the heart of Saint-Henri! This place is quintessential Quebecois dining at its worst/finest! Check it.

Lusine, Local Natives, The Besnard Lakes

April 14, 2013

Hello all. I’ve seen some really great concerts lately, but unfortunately have been too busy to give them proper reviews, so here are some mini-reviews of the three best live shows I’ve seen in Montreal this spring …

LUSINE AT O PATROS VYS

lusine

22 march 2013

Jeff McIlwain aka Lusine has been producing his visceral, melodic strain of electronic music for over a decade now and I was lucky enough to catch him play a live set at O Patros Vys, in support of his excellent new album The Waiting Room. McIlwain is an underrated legend in the electronic music scene. Unlike some of his contemporaries, Lusine has never been in the forefront of the scene, has never played huge venues or been super hyped about on music blogs, yet he is revered by those in the know – and has been perfecting his bubbly analogue techno for years now. His live set was great and he kept the crowd dancing from beginning to end. He doesn’t tour very often so if he plays your town make sure you check him out. Love it.

LOCAL NATIVES AT LE NATIONAL

local natives

29 march 2013

L.A. scenesters Local Natives returned to Montreal in support of their sophomore album Hummingbird and played to a sold out crowd at Le National. I saw them the first time around in 2010 in Toronto and was very impressed and can only say their show has gotten even better. What impressed me most was their live vocal chops, as they effortlessly hit every note, whether in chorus or alone, reminding me at times of the powerful harmonies of Crosby, Stills and Nash — which is no small feat. The crowd sang and chanted along with the band (myself included), making it feel as if Local Natives have been around forever.

The songs from their debut album Gorilla Manor were absolutely amazing live – incredibly tight and soaring to new heights from the recorded material. The newer tracks, however, failed to reach the same heights live, as you could tell they were still working them out, still smoothing out the kinks a bit, but that didn’t mean they weren’t great too, they just paled a bit in sonic comparison. Overall, this show was powerful, emotional, and a tour de force from a young band still realizing their full potential. Great stuff!

THE BESNARD LAKES AT CABARET DU MILE END

blue light

13 april 2013

The mighty Besnards celebrated the release of their fourth record, Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO and rocked out to a capacity crowd at Cabaret du Mile End. As always, their show was fantastic – they always sound even better live than on record and something about Jace Lasek’s voice and giant presence (not to mention the smoke machine and flashing lights) make The Besnard Lakes seem larger than life. I’ve seen them five times now and every time I’m happily transported on their sonic journey with them.

The band blasted through every song on their new record and were so tight it already sounded like they’ve been playing them for years. Rich White’s guitar was loud, and Jace Lasek’s voice was immaculate, as was Olga Goreas’ driving bass. They had vibraphone accompaniment for four songs, plus some horns and back up singers, which all helped expand their sound. New tracks “The Specter” and “Colour Yr Lights In” were highlights, and their new album shows a further maturity to the band’s talent as songwriters. To sum, The Besnard Lakes are most definitely still the roaring night. Fantastic show.

Tame Impala at Metropolis in Montreal

March 17, 2013

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11 march 2013

Australian rockers Tame Impala returned to Montreal and played a sold out crowd at Metropolis on Monday night. Even though it was a school night and a work night it didn’t stop teens and aging scenesters alike to cram the venue in droves. Showcasing tracks from their critically lauded 2012 release Lonerism and their equally awesome debut Innerspeaker, Kevin Parker and company revealed why they’re one of the most revered bands currently rocking in the “indie” world – because they sound both authentically throwback in the classic rock sense yet also very much of the right fucking now. We all agree Parker sounds like John Lennon and monster jam “Elephant” sounds like Sabbath, and that the band is indebted to 60’s American psychedelica and decades of British rock, yet with the release of Lonerism last year, they truly began carving out their own sonic niche and are happy to reveal this to their fans as they blast it out night after night on their massive 2013 world tour.

I saw the band play last year at Osheaga, but was still excited to see them in an indoor venue as I thought the sound would translate better indoors, and my suspicions were correct: their sound was bigger, louder, trippier, and more bad ass. What was also great is that they weren’t afraid to tweak their songs live, adding flourishes and time changes, extended riffs and solos, groovy intros and codas … in short, the show was awesome. Wafts of weed floated in the air for the duration of the show, and I completely zoned out in the vibe, staring up at the simple pulsing visuals behind them. The visuals weren’t much to look at (in fact they seemed laughably outdated), but were hooked up to the soundboard and worked in sync with Parker’s guitar and Nick Allbrook’s keys during quieter moments. Also of note is that Parker spoke en français in between many of the songs to the delight of the francophones in the crowd. All in all, it was an impressively tight set and refreshing to see a young band rocking out so earnestly. Great show.

SETLIST
Solitude Is Bliss
Apocalypse Dreams
Be Above It
Endors Toi
Music To Walk Home By
Elephant
Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind?
Feels Like We Only Go Backwards
Keep On Lying
Mind Mischief
Alter Ego
It Is Not Meant To Be
Half Full Glass Of Wine
Encore:
Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Could Control

tameimpala

*pics by Jacquelyn Taylor

5-10-15-20

October 13, 2012

Welcome to INAUDIBLE’s third installment of 5-10-15-20 in which we blatantly lift a feature from Pitchfork and use it to ask fantastic people about their torrid and varied musical love affairs at five year intervals of their lives thus far. This third edition features Montreal based music pundit Michael Ellis having visceral auditory flashbacks of the albums and artists that helped shape him into the man he is today.

AGE 5

Some of my first memories of being on this big gay earth are connected with family vacations to Rice Lake. I looked it up recently and I can’t figure out why my parents would drive all the way there with four sons fighting and shouting the entire time. We hauled balls down the ‘Highway to Forever’ in our Chrysler K-car and I always had to sit in the front between Mom and Dad. Being too small to peer over the dash, all I ever saw was the digital clock and tape deck. Before my parents fell for Billy Ray’s “Achy Breaky Heart”, they listened to cooler shit. Mostly Motown. They also listened to American Fool by John Cougar. So the summer my oldest brother chucked my snowtrooper G.I. Joe figure into the lake, promising it would come back with the tide (it didn’t), was also the summer I really listened to music for the first time. I guess you could say it hurt so good.

AGE 10

How can this exist?

This song smells like raked and rotting leaves. I found a German guy on Discogs selling an unopened LP and considered buying it.

AGE 15

My friend Glenn used to live a latch-key existence. His mom would gather the wash, claiming she was going to the laundromat, and then disappear for weeks at a time. While this lady was undeniably a piece of shit, her absence gave my friends free reign of the house. It was our club house. Glenn had a little brother he basically had to take responsibility for, making sure he was watered and fed. Being 16 or 17, and understandably not very mature, he let all kinds of shit go down in that place so long as he got something out of the deal. Stolen wares stored in his basement? Sure, but you had to buy him some Little Caesars. Having someone come over to grab a lil bag of weed? Fine, but he always got some of the money.

One day I was glazed and watching some kids play Twisted Metal 2 on a stolen Playstation, when between the couch cushions, I found a flyer for an upcoming show in Detroit – The Wu Tang Clan. We mostly listened to Eazy-E and N.W.A. like so many dumb kids, but the image on the promo was just so different than all that. The sheer insanity of nine members, all drawn in cartoon on blue photocopied paper, with these fang-grills. FANG-GRILLS! I didn’t even need to hear them rapping about Spiderman and kung-fu and goddamned Richard Dawson, I already knew I loved it.

I’m pretty white.

AGE 20

Fuck you Richie Hawtin. We peaked at the same time. It’s just that I was on acid listening to Consumed and knew I would eventually come down. But you seem like you never got over it. Concept 1, Decks, EFX, & 909, Consumed. What a run.

AGE 25

I was leaving home and ending a long lasting relationship and “Shine a Light,” “I’ll Believe in Anything,” and all the rest resounded with me. After moving to Montreal, I saw them with my tallest friend at Metropolis and fuck if it wasn’t devastating. I’m still not entirely sure what Spencer Krug is singing about in “I’ll Believe In Anything”, but at the time I felt that same desperation.

AGE 30

Grados and hash.

Ed: Thanks Mike!

If you’d like, read the first and second installments too. Cheers.

Tim Hecker & Stephen O’Malley at MUTEK

June 16, 2012

2 June 2012

Montreal sound artist Tim Hecker and Seattle hesher Stephen O’Malley of Sunn O))) fame joined forces for the 13th edition of MUTEK in Montreal to play the historic and recently refurbished St. James United Church in the heart of centre-ville. With O’Malley on guitars and pedals and Hecker playing the church’s monstrous pipe organ, and adding electronics here and there, the effect was powerful and hypnotic as an intense drone filled the church – the only light source a red glow pulsating from the stage.

A steady rain poured outside, as I sat up in the mezzanine, stoned and a little bit drunk, gazing at the beautiful architecture and thinking of how this was such an amazing combination of the sacred and secular. The venue was a perfect choice, catering to the wall of sound Hecker and O’Malley slowly built, while adding a touch of reverence and fear for the end of days. At about the halfway mark, the volume reached its crescendo and I had to pop in my earplugs, feeling as if the sound was actually coming out of me, coming out of everyone in the church really…the feedback a visceral and palpable vibration emanating from our very pores. It was pretty sensational. At times, O’Malley really crunched up his riffs, dropping D, and getting all gloom and doomy, while at other moments the sound would slowly drift into a more dulcet drone and allow us to catch out breath, until O’Malley’s guitar would blast off again.

Even though I found this show thrilling, I must admit I became restless about 30 minutes in. Perhaps the weed had something to do with it, or maybe I wasn’t quite in the right headspace for a subjective 90 minute drone-fest. Or maybe, I was really kinda hoping Hecker was going to treat us to Ravedeath, 1972 instead of playing in tandem with O’Malley. Still, it was a fascinating take on sound collaboration and improvisation by two of today’s finest experimental artists, as well as, a highlight of this year’s excellent MUTEK festival.


– sound quality is good, pic not so good, watch in HD
– media courtesy of Jacquelyn Taylor

CFCF – Exercises

May 27, 2012

Montreal producer Michael Silver aka CFCF returns with the stunning Exercises EP on Paper Bag Records. Silver has been on a bit of a run lately dropping the fantastic Night Bus mixes in 2011, in which he reinterpreted Aaliyah, Biggie, Fever Ray, Autechre and more for the wee hours of the night. But with Exercises, we see the steady maturation of Silver’s talent as a producer. The album is made up of eight keyboard based tracks that are subtle and subdued, working on loops and licks of sound that consistently surprise. Silver is able to eke out emotion, knowing that he only has to hit the right note once in a song to make his listeners feel the meditative vibe.

Silver has an ear for simple melody, letting tones and swirls of synth gently build on top of each other, and this is one reason why this album is so successful. The other is its shining star, the amazing middle point track “September”. It’s a cover of the David Sylvian track of the same name and the only song with vocals on the album. Silver’s voice sounds strong and assured, the synths mesh together perfectly, and the song packs quite an emotional punch. The first time I heard it I was on the bus in the morning and it was chilly but the sun was shining and Silver’s voice surprised me at first, reminding me a bit of Arthur Russell, and the subtle build of the production was just perfect with the hand clap beats, farting bass line, and synth stabs sounding so nice…that you can guess what happened: I got that pang, my eyes went a little watery, I had to turn my face to the window for a moment and take a breath. I had to let that tingly feeling wash over me, let it quietly remind me of all that’s good and true and possible in my life. C’est la définition of good music, my friends. I’ve since listened to it many times and can say it’s one of my favourite songs of the year, and being followed by the equally gorgeous piano based song “December” doesn’t hurt either. Every track is a winner.

Exercises is CFCF’s finest work to date and shows he is definitely an artist worth getting excited about. Check it.

Tanlines at Il Motore in Montreal

April 22, 2012

16 April 2012

Brooklyn-based duo, Jesse Cohen and Eric Emm aka Tanlines, stopped by Il Motore this week and showcased songs from their debut full-length, Mixed Emotions. The morning of the show I had decided I wasn’t going to go, as it was Monday, and I was still recovering from the weekend and had a shit ton of work to do – but at the last minute I changed my mind and made it to Il Motore just as they were getting ready to go on, and I’m glad I did, because it was a great show.

The crowd was small but lively, dancing around and getting swept into the vocals by Cohen and the pounding bass and stand-up drumming by Emm. Emm made quirky comments about the duo’s love for Canada in between each song, and they seemed to be having a lot of fun on stage. Mixed Emotions is a slow burn of an album, but incredibly infectious once the melodies get stuck in your head. Like Cut Copy and Hot Chip before them, Tanlines work the 80’s aesthetic, pulling influence from Peter Gabriel, New Order, The Police and Phil Collins, and mixing it with tribal rhythms and tropicália flourishes.

Mixed Emotions has received mixed reviews across the blogosphere, some reviewers claiming they wished it was dancier, others that they had hoped the duo would have pushed their sound further, while others say its mix of sun, fun and melancholy falls flat overall. And a writer for the Mirror called their music something like “indie rock meets The Lion King”. But for this reviewer, Tanlines full-length balances its emotions perfectly. “Not the Same” is a powerful song that aims for the gut and succeeds, while banger “Real Life” is a near flawless ‘fun’ track designed to get you dancing. I think the album plays out well from start to finish, and gets better with successive listens, as the vocal melodies begin to glue themselves to your brain and you find you just want to keep listening again and again.

A great Monday night show and one of my favourite albums of the year thus far. Check it.

Album highlights: “Real Life”, “Abby”, “Not the Same