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Music

Streams of the week

Kavinsky – “ProtoVision” (Turzi Crack Remix) – ProtoVision EP

French electro-house DJ Kavinsky instantly met mainstream status after “Nightcall” was featured in the opening credits of the Gosling-fueled cult hit Drive. Kavinsky’s slow, mysterious ’80s soundtrack-inspired production set the tone for the entire film — a la the opening theme for Night Rider. Naturally, when he released his first single since claiming fame, it got some attention. If “Nightcall” accompanied a drive in the dead of the night, “ProtoVision” is meant for the low profile, one-on-one car chase. Kavinsky raised the synth, speed and busted out a killer electric guitar riff. Still, it was missing something.

French electronic group Turzi seems to have found that special ingredient with their “ProtoVision” remix, featured on the ProtoVision EP released last Monday. It just needed a vocal. They may not be clear, but it gives the track that extra human layer that tricks the listener into feeling like they’re part of the action. Weave in a few deeper beats, a revving engine and screeching tires and the track tells a story.

Thanks to Turzi, Kavinsky has another floor-filling anthem.

 

Thee Oh Sees – “Minotaur” – Floating Coffin

San Franciscan five piece Thee Oh Sees began as an experimental side project for guitarist/frontman John Dwyer. But after the success of 2012’s Putrifiers II, named one of SPIN Magazine’s 50 Best Albums of 2012, the band is much more experimental and a side project no more.

Thee Oh Sees are riding the garage-rock comeback wave, tight on the heels of Ty Segall. They debuted “Minotaur” this week, available as a free download off Pitchfork, ahead of their much anticipated April LP, Floating Coffin. The track makes full and proper use of the band’s one female member, vocalist and keyboardist Brigid Dawson. Her angelic coo is the perfect antidote to Dwyer’s antagonizing ah-ha. “Minotaur” is a crossover track: its harmonies, angst, cello-driven backbone and jerky bass lines apply equally to the indie and garage rock lover. This song will cement itself in your head.

 

DIANA – “Born Again” Remixes – Soundcloud

There’s nothing quite like the shared love of a song between friends. For many musicians, it’s a common musical obsession that initiates the friendship in the first place. Such is the case with Toronto’s DIANA. The band began as the brainchild of two university friends. With the addition of front-woman Carmen Elle, DIANA turned obsession into an homage to early ’80s new age electronica.

Their spacey debut “Born Again” lit up the blogosphere, attracted the infamous Tegan and Sara (who have since invited DIANA to join their current North American tour) and invited remixes galore. Many of these “Born Again” remixes were by their closest musician friends, from Montreal’s Doldrums to Luke Lalonde of Born Ruffians. The band was so proud of these remixes that they uploaded them all onto their Soundcloud, which is still fresh in the making. DIANA have yet to release an album, let alone an EP. Hopefully the band’s popularity is an indicator of more to come and not “getting by with a little help” from friends.

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Music

A farewell to Igloofest

Igloofest press photo

 

Joe Goddard (Hot Chip) DJ set – Thursday, Feb. 7

Twenty seconds into Joe Goddard’s “Gabriel” and his role in the infamous dance-pop collective Hot Chip becomes clear; he’s the magic man. When Hot Chip released “Ready For the Floor” five years ago, a YouTube-baby-phenomenon surfaced. The heavily produced track is laced with beats so simple and infectious that the choreography is instinctive.

Goddard is the sound that makes your shoulders tick, hips swing and end it all in a wild body flail — complete with hands in the air. But he doesn’t have a lot of time to spare. Goddard’s a father of two, been seen in studio with Mercury Prize-nominated Jessie Ware and still touring with Hot Chip in support of their critically acclaimed 2012 release, In Our Heads.

Catch him while you can.

Trial track: “Gabriel” – Joe Goddard ft. Valentina

 

Joy Orbison – Saturday, Feb. 8

Peter O’Grady — better known by stage name Joy Orbison — was thrust into London’s  electronic dance scene on a remarkably high note. His debut single “Hyph Mngo” was voted #1 in Fact Magazine’s top tracks of 2009, one of NME’s New Music Tips of 2010 and called one of the most ‘forward thinking dubstep’ tracks by several publications, including Pitchfork.

Four years later and he still has not released a full record, just singles on vinyl, an EP and several remixes. But he’s no one hit wonder; its quality over quantity. O’Grady is busy crafting his own genre of electronica and all that he produces seems to meet critical acclaim. Like most house music, his tracks rely on one isolated vocal at its centre to carry the listener through several movements full of deep, pulsating drum and bass.

O’Grady has safely nestled his way into the middle ground of electronica; Joy Orbison’s got something for everyone on the dance floor.

Trial track: “Ellipsis” – Joy Orbison

 

ONEMAN – Saturday, Feb. 8

Very few DJs are artists. Most of them are music lovers with a Macbook, turntable and one overwhelming ego. ONEMAN, Steve Bishop, is the exception. Bishop melds his own beats with samples of old and new, from Bone Thugs-n-Harmony to the instrumental from Kanye and Twista’s “Overnight Celebrity.” He plays with his infatuations and makes them into something entirely different — this is old-school ‘90s house-dubstep.

ONEMAN’s Facebook page has almost 14,000 likes and his month-old remix of The xx’s “Chained” already has more than 11,000 plays, but he’s yet to release a physical record. Bishop has found himself among the U.K.’s biggest dubstep DJs, even opening for SBTRKT. Despite this success, the Internet is his preferred platform and the mixtape his weapon of choice.

Trial track: “Chained” – The xx [ONEMAN 119 House Edit]

 

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Music

New Music Canada: Aidan Knight

Aidan Knight plays Le Petit Campus on Feb. 8 (Press)

The Youtube trailer for Aidan Knight’s Small Reveal previews the album in a way far superior to sound alone.

Meet Thea.

A beekeeper by passion and waitress by practicality, Thea spends most of her time hustling tables downtown in support of a social life and the bees she keeps and farms for honey. At the end of the day she is faced with disappointment; one of her bees has died.

Is it all really worth it? How could she hurt what she loved most?

“When you are working on yourself … something has to suffer,” explained Knight, revealing that, as a touring musician, he deeply regrets the time it takes from family just as Thea laments time away from her bees. “There’s a certain sense of selfishness in making music … it pushes away healthy relationships.”

This feeling is one of many that Knight and his band of Friendly Friends try to communicate in Small Reveal. It is the confessional of the musician on the road, not just Knight specifically.

“Sometimes I’ll stop writing a line if I see that I’ve written the word ‘I’. I feel selfish being a songwriter,” said Knight. “Maybe that’s what this album is about.”

But you don’t need to have a musician-sized ego to relate. In “A Mirror,” the album’s first single and track that comes closest to indie pop, Knight’s everyman lyrics reach out to anyone with a crush. “The effortless cool way/You carry your bags/I am stocking the shelves/Hoping you’ll see me in the back.”

Though it spools out like one cohesive thought, this is not a solo record.

Small Reveal is the product of five talented artists; Knight’s soft, folky tenor and acoustics weave through back up vocals, harpsichord, piano, flute, cello, drums, horns and electric guitar compliments of multi-instrumentalists Colin Nealis, David Barry, Olivier Clements and Julia Wackal — Knight’s girlfriend.

Each track is a piece of art, and the effort to evoke human emotion through orchestral composition and movement is clear.

The quintet has played together since Knight’s 2009 studio debut, Versicolor.

“We spent about a year recording it on and off over several sessions, in several spaces, different studios and made it hard on ourselves and hauled a bunch of mobile recording gear into weird spaces,” said Knight. “There is no way this album could have been made in any other way, with any other people.”

Aptly titled, Small Reveal’s opening track is “Dream Team.”

Love for community, friends and family lie at the root of all that Knight does professionally, which is why his distraction from them is what he feels the most guilty about. He was born in a “nest” of acceptance; his family encouraged him to do whatever he dreamed and may even be his inspiration. Knight’s mother was a touring musician and hosted jam sessions on their driveway every summer; 26 years later and he’s still hanging around the corner.

“I really feel strongly that being influenced by, or having art and creativity in your life makes a confusing journey seem worth it,” said Knight.

For Knight music may, at times, lead him astray from what matters most, but it’s what brings him home in the end.

Trial track: “A Mirror”

Aidan Knight plays Le Petit Campus on Feb. 8

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Music

Streams of the week

Foxygen – “San Francisco” – We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic

 

Just one spin of “San Francisco” and you’re hooked. Where has Foxygen been for the past 50 years? This sound is steeped so deeply in ‘60s brit pop psychedelia, you’d swear it was a blast from the past. In age, Foxygen’s Jonathan Rado and Sam France haven’t reached the quarter century mark. The slow, hypnotic call-and-return of “I left my love in San Francisco/That’s ok, I was born in L.A.” will hover in your mind for days. Rado and France have been making musical love together since 2005, as self-described “high school kids obsessed with the Brian Jonestown Massacre.” Now signed to Jagjaguwar, the same label responsible for Bon Iver and Sharon Van Etten, Foxygen may be the ‘it’ band of 2013. Their second album, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic, is out January 22.

 

Mozart’s Sister – “Mozart’s Sister” – Hello EP 

 

She’s baaaaaack. Yes, in all her curve-hugging, hip-thrusting ‘90s diva-tastic charm, Mozart’s Sister’s Caila Thompson-Hannant is back. But she wasn’t gone for long. After charming Austin at last year’s South by Southwest, releasing her debut EP (2011’s Dear Fear) and multiple appearances at POP Montreal, Mozart’s Sister stepped into the studio to hash out her next ‘pièce de résistance.’ Montreal’s resident electro-soul singer announced the Feb. 26 release of the Hello EP this week by unveiling the self-titled “Mozart’s Sister”. The one-woman band felt it was time to debut a theme song. Belting, “I’ll never be more than number two/But at least two’s better than three,” the infectious pop ballad, somehow, is a self-deprecating pep talk.

 

Blue Hawaii – “Try to Be” – Untogether

 

Blue Hawaii features a gutsy soprano that Montreal’s most naive Mile End hipster will recognize. In “Try to Be”, the modest Braids’ frontwoman, Raphaelle Standell-Preston, pits her soothing vocals and acoustic guitar loop against Alexander Cowan’s ambient, building production. Cowan, brother to the head of Montreal’s Arbutus Records, has long been a part of the city’s DIY underground electronic scene—which is now, on a national scale, associated with the success of Grimes’ Claire Boucher. Blue Hawaii’s first album, 2010’s Blooming Summer, was a poppy, tropical and dance-inducing debut. But the record unfortunately laid in the shadows of Braids’ 2011 Polaris Prize nominated Native Speaker. The pair previewed a two part single, “In Two I” & “II”, last October—but their full length sophomore effort is due March 2013.

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Music

TOP TEN: Best Albums of 2012

10. Death Grips – The Money Store

By no means is The Money Store one of 2012’s most pleasing albums to the ear. However, it’s earned its stripes with its uniqueness; it houses the kind of thrashing, raw and ridiculous noise that would make your grandparents cover their ears. Death Grips brings unparallelled intensity to the table, like a car horn, or war, or tin cans being dragged behind a moving vehicle.

 

9. Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d City

Kendrick Lamar’s debut album is a lesson to artists everywhere in storytelling, precision and attention to detail. While riding a wave of fluid, pulsing beats, the listener follows the artist deep into the trials and tribulations of his upbringing, personal life and rise to fame. Personal touches include segments of voicemails left by his parents from when he was young that punctuate the album and ease the plot along.

 

8. Snowblink – Inner Classics

Snowblink’s Daniela Gesundheit and Dan Goldman have long floated beneath the CBC Radio 3 – Canadiana indie mainstream. After appearing as Feist’s backing band at this year’s Polaris Prize ceremony, the duo continues to gain recognition. Inner Classic, their second studio album, plays like the 10-day meditation retreat it was inspired by. Gesundheit’s pure, perfectly rounded-out voice glides over Goldman’s harmonies, track after track.

 

7. Alt-J – An Awesome Wave

Although British rock band Alt-J stepped onto the scene in 2007, it took them five years to release their debut album. An Awesome Wave boasts harmonic vocals occasionally akin to a barbershop quartet paired with obscure, often nonsensical lyrics against a backdrop of punchy, ringing, resonating melodies. This album wins the quirky award – alongside Britain’s legitimate Barclaycard Mercury Prize – for 2012.

 

6. Feist – Metals

Though the album was officially released at the close of 2011, Metals’  2012 acquisition of the Polaris Prize lands it safely on this list. The album plays out like her most recently released music video: intimately. “Graveyard,” like Metals, was produced entirely in California’s Big Sur region. Feist and her backing band are shot from the distance in the desert, but it feels as if it is all for an audience of one.

 

5. Here We Go Magic – A Different Ship

The appearance of any Brooklyn-hailing band on a ‘top ten’ list may sound trite, but Here We Go Magic have paid their dues. Now touring off their fourth album, the band has successfully covered all the bases. A Different Ship keeps your toes tapping, encourages your date to drink a few more beers and is the perfect travel companion. After catching the band’s Glastonbury performance, Radiohead’s Nigel Godrich signed on to produce the album. Godrich’s production is heavily apparent in the album’s first single, “Make Up Your Mind.”

 

4. Patrick Watson – Adventures In Your Own Backyard

A Montreal staple, it’s not often that Patrick Watson skips out on any list of local music favourites. In his downtime, the composer-singer-songwriter hides out in Plateau with his family, but he has been touring relentlessly for most of 2012. As the title suggests, Adventures In Your Own Backyard is an experience. Though it was released just last spring, the album has brought Watson across the continent multiple times. Adventures features lyrics, vocals, full band and strings that will tease the wildest of imaginations.

 

3. Grizzly Bear – Shields

Melodic, layered, folky and seemingly emanating from deep inside a forest, Shields gives the modern-day music maven something simple yet lovely to digest. What has the potential to slip through the cracks into the abyss of mediocre ‘hipster jams’ is instead spun into a full-bodied masterpiece of an album. Powerful vocal work, rolling drums, and ambient undertones allow Shields to fill your soul.

 

2. Sharon Van Etten – Tramp

Tramp stands out as the most surprising album of 2012, yet its tracks play out as familiarly as the lines around your lover’s smile. The album is the story of girl setting aside anyone and anything that stood in her way in the quest for inner satisfaction. In the two albums released prior to Tramp, Van Etten’s voice was a whisper. This time around, Van Etten confidently puts down the college boyfriend who hid her guitar, told her she was shit and could never make it as a singer. Not one track on this album disappoints.

 

1. Frank Ocean – Channel ORANGE

Channel ORANGE will undoubtedly provoke listeners to frantically feel around for the nearest bottle of expensive champagne. Ocean’s sultry voice oozes glamour against delightfully chilling bass lines, evoking class and elegance. Riddled with social commentary and refreshing depth, this monolith of an album is more than a pretty face — beneath the surface lies more wisdom than you can shake a stick at.

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Music

Jonas Bonnetta talks Evening Hymns and inner light

The Concordian spoke with Jonas Bonnetta, the folk singer-songwriter at the heart of Evening Hymns, ahead of his show at Le Cagibi on Saturday.

Evening Hymns. Press photo

The Concordian: What does Evening Hymns mean?

Jonas: When I chose that band name it was meant to create a quiet place.

 

C: When did you start working with Sylvie Smith on Evening Hymns?

J: I knew her from her old band, Habitat. We met three or four years ago when I was recording the song “Western Roads” as a solo artist, and I asked her to sing on it because I knew she had a nice country voice. It sounded really good, and we realized we should write more music together.

 

C: Your father recently passed, what kind of relationship did you have with him?

J: It was great, he was an awesome dad, couldn’t ask for anything more. After I graduated high school he bought a trucking company and I worked with him there for 6 years. We were business partners. And then he bought a sawmill, and I worked there for years. I didn’t go away to university. I drove to work with him every day. I took care of him. We were really close.

 

C: What does your latest album, Spectral Dusk, mean to you?

J: First of all, it was for me, my mum, my two brothers and sister. We are all really pleased with it. It’s a snapshot of my dad. That’s really all that I was concerned with. But every show we play, someone comes up to me saying that they really connected to it because they’d lost somebody. It’s 50 minutes of something peaceful and gentle to think about; to cherish the people you’re close to that are still alive and think about the people you’ve lost. I don’t think of it as dark, it’s more light. It’s a 50 minute reflection, more so on life than death.

 

C: Evening Hymns has toured more in Europe than at home, in Canada. Why? 

J: We released a record in France. This really great magazine there, Magic Magazine, reviewed our first album and a label heard it, liked it and asked us to re-release it there. We then toured in France, all through Europe. There’s a bit of a ‘thing’ for Canadian music over there. I think we got in at the right time there. The right people heard us, we got lucky. The more you tour physically, the more your audience grows. But now we’re focusing on Canada. This is only our second full tour across Canada.

 

C: What hole, if any, does music fill for you in life?

J: It’s my main creative outlet. I don’t necessarily want it to be my 100 per cent job. It would be nice if I could make enough money for me to take long chunks of time off to write and record, but I like working. I like having jobs to do. I probably will for the rest of my life, even if music does start paying a little bit more. I think working is important. I love working with wood. If I find work for a couple months doing that in between tours, it’s not a bad thing. It’s good; it helps me grow as a person aside from music.

 

C: What is it you like about working with wood?

J: I think it’s nice having something tangible to work with. I grew up in the woods and I have a nice connection to the woods. The smell of it and the way it works is amazing. It always makes me feel comfortable.

 

C: Why has Evening Hymns remained, at its core, a duo?

J: It just makes sense logistically to keep it stripped down. Can’t afford to bring a full seven piece band across Canada. We are touring as a four piece band when we come to Montreal. I don’t really have an interest in recreating the record live, as a full band, we already recorded it that way. I want to continue to change it and keep it interesting for us. If I have to perform for two thirds of the year, the last thing I want to do is play the same thing every night. Its nice for us to try and reinvent the songs. Its fun and challenging.

 

Trial track: “Arrows”

Evening Hymns play Le Cagibi on Saturday, Nov. 24.

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Music

Streams o’ the Week

1. MA Remix – Ariane Moffatt (2012; Audiogram)

Not as easy task, but Montreal’s Miss Moffatt has managed to seduce Quebec’s French and English audiences and bridge the gap with 2012’s MA. Moffat told CBC that she wants “to master the essence of each kind of groove” and that she feels “more creative when making stylistic clashes.” In the spirit of chasing something different, the singer-songwriter is set to release MA Remix on Nov. 6. If MA showed Moffat dipping her toes in electronica, with MA Remix she’s completely submersed. The album’s six tracks are straight-up dancehall thanks to a collaboration with Montreal DJ Poirer, who she chose to lead production. MA tracks were reworked by several DJs so much so that MA Remix stands as an entirely different record on its own. Moffatts voice is slowly stretched out over jumbled, intoxicating and seductive electronica — “Hotel Amour” and “In Your Body” are transformed from pop into slow, sexual dance. This album will likely make heavy rotation in Montreal clubs after Moffatt officially launches the material on Nov. 5 at her 5925 Park Avenue show.

 

2. “Breakers” – Local Natives – Hummingbird (2013; French Kiss)

Remember Gorilla Manor? Hard to believe it has been almost four years since Local natives released their debut album. Last week, straight out of the blue, the Cali afro-pop rock band released Breakers, the first single off their anticipated 2013 sophomore record. With reference to their new material, Local Natives told Pitchfork that it “feels like our band, but we’re not doing the same thing again.” If “Breakers” serves as an indicator of what direction the band is moving in, they are rounding out their young, catchy pop tunes in favor of a louder, darker and venue-absorbing sound. The track begins with their signature, light toe tapping drum beat, then ascends into something new for them – loud, victorious vocal harmony. This change from innocent pop to emotional rock sounds like maturity, but the lyrics instead reveal a state of limbo, in between adolescence and adulthood. “Stare down my nose, watching/the color change from my eyes/Cold cereal and TV/Before I go to sleep.”

3. “Splitter” – Calexico – NPR’s Favorite Sessions

In the latest installation of their ‘Favorite Sessions’ series, NPR published a clip of Calexico performing their new single, “Splitter”, at Minnesota’s 89.3 The Current studios. Electronica is seeping into almost every strain of music – even Taylor Swift is dabbling in dubstep – so it is surprisingly refreshing to see a band perform raw acoustics. Vocalist Joey Burns leads two additional guitarists and a pianist in what NPR called ‘a beautiful breakup song.’ Burns’ husky, southern soothing voice comforts the listener with “One hand on the hammer, one foot by the door/Pushed by the wind, fed by the need for moving on/Moving on to nowhere”. If the lack of actual instruments in popular music leaves you lost, reassure yourself with Calexico’s live “Splitter” footage.

 

 

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Music

COLUMN: Streams o’ the Week

Aidan Knight – Small Reveal (2012; Outside Music)

With the release of his second full-length album, Aidan Knight has honed honest folk far beyond his years. The 25-year-old B.C. native has performed and recorded with Dan Mangan, The Zolas and Hannah Georgas, as well helping establish the record label Adventure Boys Club. Though Knight is primarily known for upbeat, campfire acoustics,+ Small Reveal takes a darker turn. Many of the songs detail Knight’s reflection on what it means to be a songwriter. The album trailer, available on Knight’s Youtube page, juxtaposes Small Reveal with footage of a girl spending her a days bouncing between two lives that of a waitress and a beekeeper. The video illustrates how isolated one can feel balancing practicality with passion, though it’s the path most have to take. CBC Music published a full preview of Small Reveal ahead of its Oct. 23 release date.

 

Blue Hawaii – “In Two” – Untogether (2013; Arbutus)

Almost two years later, frontwoman Raphaelle Standell-Preston is still lapping up the success of Braids’ studio debut, Native Speaker. Though prepping for the 2013 release of the band’s next album, Standell-Preston reunited with her Blue Hawaii partner, Alexander Cowan, to produce Untogether. The Montreal-based label and DIY music community, Arbutus Records, made two of Blue Hawaii’s Untogether tracks available for streaming and free download last week. If “In Two” and “In Two (pt II) serve as an album taster, a few things are certain — the duo is moving farther from pop and closer to chillwave, their studio-crafted sound is now more spacious and dark, and this is young, indie-house that you can’t help but dance to. Blue Hawaii debuted their material last weekend at New York City’s College Media Journal (CMJ) Music Marathon to rave reviews.

 

Luke Lalonde – “Grand (Rhythmnals)” – Rhythmnals (2012; Paper Bag)

His name may not ring a bell, but Luke Lalonde’s got a voice that most with CBC Radio 3 on rotation will recognize. As the frontman of Ontario pop-rock band Born Ruffians, Lalonde has shared the stage with Hot Chip, Franz Ferdinand and Peter Bjorn and John. The Ruffians even appeared on the cult UK series Skins playing their hit “Hummingbird”. The band has been slow to release new material over the years, touring off 2010’s Say It as recently as this year’s Pop Montreal. The band is rumored to have a new album out in 2013, but it is clear that Lalonde has focused efforts on his solo career. Lalonde wrote and recorded Rhythmnals from early 2010 to spring of 2012, perfecting each song on his own from beginning to end. “Grand,” the album’s opening track, is the perfect mixture of acoustic pop and snappy electronica. “Grand” and his first single, “Undone,” are available via Soundcloud, but the full album is out Oct. 30.

 

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Music

The Luyas give life to an old friend in Animator

Artists struggle to illustrate honest, human emotion in their work— in Animator, it came to The Luyas in a stroke of unfortunate luck.

Close your eyes whilst listening to “Montuno,” the album’s opening track, and it runs like a film on the backs of your eyelids; it is the beautiful and eerily realistic soundtrack that plays in one’s mind while coping with loss.

At first “Montuno” feels upbeat and determined, but a desperately sad violin cuts the optimism and carries the listener towards a

The Luyas. Press photo

horrifying instrumental collision and front-woman Jessie Stein’s dazed monologue. It’s as if the song itself goes through the three stages of grief: disbelief, experiencing the loss and reintegration.

“I would call it a serious record,” said the band’s drummer, Bucky Wheaton. “It’s not overly dramatic, light or playful.”

Stein joined bandmates Pietro Amato, Mathieu Charbonneau, Wheaton and Arcade Fire’s Sarah Neufeld at Montreal’s Treatment Room on a nippy February morning to work lyrics into music. Wheaton was recently hired as The Luyas’ new drummer, and the group expected the day would revolve around blending his beat into their already established chemistry.

A phone call changed everything.

The next day, Stein tweeted, “We started making a record yesterday. It is dedicated 100% to Christopher Reimer, honorary luya, who was our brother.”

Reimer, the guitarist of Calgary rock band Women, died in his sleep at 26 and was a close friend to every Luya, except Wheaton.

“It was difficult to see friends so sad, and frustrating not to be able to share it with them or do anything about it,” said Wheaton. “It took a lot of strength from them, but there was determination in the air.”

Though the shock of Reimer’s death initially came as a distraction, Wheaton claims they were more inspired than anything else to make an honest record. The band worked nonstop, barely to sleep, and after one week of recording Stein tweeted, “First day off since the news. Now I’m fucked.”

The Luyas have a tendency to work efficiently until a project is done, rather than spreading the recording process over several months.

“Our first record was recorded two months after the band was started,” said Luyas brass player and founding member, Amato. “We wrote a bunch of songs and recorded them right away.”

The band’s current lineup is the product of multiple friendships. Stein has been good friends with Amato since he played with Torngat, an indie instrumental trio also featuring Charbonneau. Stein dreamt of playing with Torngat and hoped to one day write lyrics to accompany their music. That never materialized, instead Pietro and Stein collaborated on the side, and with the addition of Charbonneau and now ex-drummer Stefan Schneider, The Luyas were born. Schneider left the band this year to pursue a career in yoga, and Amato recruited an old Concordia classmate — Wheaton.

The Luyas debuted Animator in front of a live audience last weekend at New York City’s College Media Journal Music Marathon. Wheaton revealed feelings of excitement and fear before heading south, for he’s used to performing the record in studio.

“Making a record out of music that you don’t normally play live means that when you do play it live it changes more drastically, rather than music that you first performed live and then recorded,” said Wheaton. “We’ll see how strong the material is live and figure out if we need to make changes to it.”

Animator, released Oct. 16, is bound to attract critical acclaim — let’s hope it lives up to the live test.

 

The Luyas’ Animator album launch show is on Tuesday Nov. 13 at the Mile-End Cabaret (5240 Parc. Ave). Tickets are $15 + service charges.

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Music

Jack White; a diva no more

“Jesus Christ, is this an NPR convention?” asked White before cutting his set short last Saturday in New York City, three days before he appeared at Montreal’s L’Olympia. Despite technical problems and the negative press detailing White’s ‘diva-tude’ behaviour, he didn’t fail to impress the Montreal crowd.

Eager to see whether White would enter the stage with Los Buzzardos, the all-male band, or The Peacocks, his all-female band, the lights dimmed and the crowd erupted in cheers. White and Los Buzzardos began playing The White Stripes’ song “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground.”

The sound immediately electrified fans, but as soon as White walked up to the mic, it became obvious that something was off. The music level was much higher than the vocals, making it virtually impossible to hear White sing.

Press photo.

Throughout the ninety-minute show, White played songs from his entire repertoire. He performed tracks that he wrote with The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather, a few songs from his solo debut Blunderbuss, and a song he wrote with Hank Williams, “You Know That I Know.”

But his White Stripe hits proved to be the most memorable. The closing song “Seven Nation Army” was both electric and delicate, causing the most powerful reaction from fans.

It’s no surprise that the crowd was so enthusiastic about White, for he lived up to his reputation and shied away from gimmicks to produce an honest-to-God rock show. This concert was, without a doubt, a riveting musical experience.

 

 

 

Top five Jack White tracks

 

1. “Seven Nation Army” – White Stripes – Elephant

It is near impossible to have lived through the 2000s and not recognize the signature “Seven Nation Army” guitar riff. It sounds like a bass, but was the sound was actually created by running White’s semi-acoustic guitar through a DigiTech Whammy pedal set down an octave.

It was adopted as the unofficial anthem of A.S. Roma, an Italian football club based in Rome, during the 2006 World Cup. Nowadays crowds chant the lyrics to “Seven Nation Army” instead of the traditional Olé, Olé, Olé. “I’m gonna fight ’em off/A seven nation army couldn’t hold me back/They’re gonna rip it off/Taking their time right behind my back.”

 

2. “Portland, Oregon” – Loretta Lynn & Jack White – Van Lear Rose

After being M.I.A. for about ten years, country pioneer Loretta Lynn returned to the studio with White to release 2004’s Van Lear Rose. White lent vocals, guitar and produced the record — which later won the Grammy Award for Best Country Album.  “Portland, Oregon” is the album’s only duet and serves as their ode to the city that bewitched them as touring musicians. Its music video juxtaposes footage of America’s ‘weirdest’ city with White and Lynn performing in a dive bar, and lets you to peer into the relationship the two developed working closely together. “Well I lost my heart it didn’t take no time/But that ain’t all/ I lost my mind in Oregon.”

 

3. “Icky Thump” – The White Stripes – Icky Thump

“Icky Thump” is the title track of The White Stripes’ sixth and final album. Though it was released in 2007, the pair didn’t announce their separation until 2011. After 13 years together, they called it quits for a “myriad of reasons, but mostly to preserve what is beautiful and special about the band.” The album returned to the heavy, snarky rock found in their earlier releases. The title track, “Icky Thump”, features one of White’s only political references. It deals with immigration to the United States, with both the song’s lyrics and music video detailing how easy it is for someone to cross the border into Mexico, yet near impossible to get back into the US. “White Americans/What? Nothin’ better to do?/Why don’t you kick yourself out/You’re an immigrant too.”

 

4. “Blunderbuss” – Jack White – Blunderbuss

Though White had been bouncing from one project to the next for a decade, he didn’t release solo material until 2012. And that’s because Blunderbuss was a record that he couldn’t release until now. He told Rolling Stone, “I’ve put off making records under my own name for a long time but these songs feel like they could only be presented under my name. These songs were written from scratch, had nothing to do with anyone or anything else but my own expression, my own colors on my own canvas.” The title track is a country-rock piano ballad, and appears to address his former bandmate and ex-wife, Meg White. “And you’ll be watching me, girl/Taking over the world/Let the stripes unfurl/Gettin’ rich singin’ poor boy/Poor boy.”

 

5. “Steady As She Goes” – The Raconteurs – Broken Boy Soldiers

The Raconteurs formed after White bonded with an old friend, Brendan Benson, in an attic on a hot summer’s day. Cooped up, the pair wrote “Steady As She Goes” and were inspired to make things official. With the addition of Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler of The Greenhornes, The Raconteurs called themselves “a new band made up of old friends.” This track is White’s most mainstream effort and the closest he has ever gotten to pop. The song has been covered by Adele, Corinne Bailey Rae, Fitz and The Tantrums and was nominated for the Best Rock Performance Grammy in 2007. “Settle for a girl neither up or down/sell it to the crowd that’s gathered round/so steady as she goes.”

 

Categories
Music

Snowblink wants to treat you

Press photo.

Snowblink’s Inner Classic is everything you’d expect from an album inspired by a ten day silent meditation retreat.

Daniela Gesundheit’s careful, yet effortlessly sweet and powerful voice spills over the entire record. With guitarist Dan Goldman’s production, Snowblink hypnotizes listeners into a content, therapeutic state like waves lapping up on shore. And the therapy doesn’t end there.

The band is now encouraging their fans to book a complimentary singing ‘treatment’ from them by filling out a contact form on their website. Yes, for free, Gesundheit wants to call you or someone you care about and share a one-on-one live performance through the telephone.

It’s not like they have nothing better to do with their time. In 2012 alone, Snowblink toured with Cold Specks, Feist, and is now hitting the road with Great Lake Swimmers. Feist even chose Snowblink to perform as her backing band at this year’s Polaris Prize Gala. How did a force so peaceful as Snowblink crawl it’s way into the Canadian mainstream?

Though Snowblink began as a solo project for Gesundheit, Goldman has been involved from the start. The pair met in Montreal in 2005; Gesundheit had moved north after graduating from Wesleyan University and ended up giving Goldman voice lessons in exchange for guitar lessons.

“We did a little bit of recording that fall, followed by a two month tour…it evolved naturally,” explained Gesundheit. “We communicate really well, it was all so easy and our musical connection is still really strong.”

Despite developing this bond, Gesundheit moved back to California, her home state, and set up shop in San Francisco, where she temporarily employed MGMT’s Benjamin Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden as her back up vocalists. It wasn’t until 2008 that Gesundheit and Goldman returned to the roots of their relationship, officially calling Snowblink a party of two.

“We have a really nice, symbiotic way of working together. I write the songs alone, then Dan edits them and does a lot of work on the production end of the recording process,” said Gesundheit. “He is really involved and responsible for as much of the sound on the record.”

These days, Snowblink calls Toronto its headquarters. Gesundheit credits the city’s music community for giving her the inspiration to have real traction with her music.

“There are so many extraordinary musicians here, and it’s such a close, relatively small community, which I love…It sparks a lot of action in terms of creating, arranging and performing music,” revealed Gesundheit. “We’ve gotten a lot out of it.”

Since 2009, when she moved to Toronto, Gesundheit found herself working alongside Timber Timbre’s Taylor Kirk, Austra’s Katie Stelmanis and Ohbijou’s Casey Mecija as one of the many vocalists in the indie-rock supergroup, Bruce Peninsula.

“[Bruce Peninsula] is a powerhouse of these amazing musicians altogether,” said Gesundheit. “I just walked into some of the most exciting parts of the music scene.”

With Inner Classic and Toronto’s tight-knit music community as their muse, Snowblink has becomes one of Canada’s most surprising bands to watch out for.

 

Book a ‘Treatment’ from Snowblink at snowblinksays.com/now/book-a-treatment/

Trial track: “Black & White Mountains”

Categories
Music

Don’t POP til you get enough

Photo by L.P Maurice

Grizzly Bear

A music student’s wet dream. If three-part vocal harmonies performed by musicians juggling several instruments at once doesn’t get you off – I don’t think anything ever will.  Grizzly Bear’s performance at L’Olympia Sunday night left us speechless. Really, we have no words.

Bassist, producer, and back-up vocalist Chris Taylor casually looped in the sax, oboe and flute, Christopher Bear snapped away on the drums, and lead vocalists Ed Droste and Daniel Rossen ethereally breathed life into their melodies, plucking away at piano keys and guitar strings.

The boys are touring in promotion of the latest addition to their musical catalog. Shields was released earlier this month, much to the brava of those that were fans of their earlier, less commercial work. The bandmates took some time apart last year to work on solo projects and develop their own, individual musical styles. Their live show proves that they successfully honed their strengths, regrouped and learned to meld together better than ever.

 

Unknown Mortal Orchestra

As Grizzly Bear’s openers at L’Olympia on Sunday, Unknown Mortal Orchestra lucked out in playing to a packed house. And there really couldn’t be a band more deserving of the spotlight.

UMO are hardly ‘unknown,’ for they’ve lapped the Pitchfork crowd multiple times in the past year alone, stealing several festival gigs. You really do have to see them live to understand all the brouhaha. UMO performed as a three piece, just a guitarist-vocalist, drummer and bass player. Somehow, the sound that generated from their instruments pumped with all the manpower of a full funk-rock orchestra. This is rock that you can really groove to. Choosing to tag along on the Shields tour was a smart move for UMO, chances are pretty high that they’ll gather an immense following before the end of the year.

 

An Evening with David Byrne & St. Vincent

On paper, David Byrne and St. Vincent’s Annie Clark may seem like an odd pair. In the Plateau’s majestic church Eglise Saint-Jeane Baptiste, they dropped jaws. The two are touring on the heels of their collaborative effort, Love This Giant, released at the beginning of the month. Clark’s angelic, pitch-perfect voice blended harmoniously with Byrne’s signature Talking Heads warble. And man, can that girl shred; Clark’s skills on the electric guitar are near unmatched by any female rockstar. The evening was a hoot. In between Byrne’s quips and – how could I not mention – a fully choreographed set list, it was truly a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience.

 

How Music Works w/ David Byrne and Win Butler

At the Ukrainian Federation on Saturday night, POP-ers had the opportunity to meet the men behind all their adulation. Yes, David Byrne recently wrote a book called How Music Works, but his talk with Arcade Fire’s Win Butler didn’t really stick to what lies on the pages. It was hardly a lecture. Butler and Byrne exchanged jokes, jabs, and perspectives on success in the music industry. Discussion topics were kept quite light, from ‘what to wear on stage’ to ‘why musicians use choreography in their routines.’ Perhaps the only real insight we gained from the talk was hearing Byrne and Butler’s public realization of the end of music as a commodity. For as internet pirates continue to allow albums to go for free, recording artists look to the live show as the real product.

 

Born Ruffians

These Ontarians played not once, twice but three times throughout POP Montreal. The indie-pop-rockers are kind of behind in terms of the Canadian music scene. They toured throughout the summer and continue to this fall, but are still relying on old material. Their last album, Say It, was released in 2010. Despite the lack of excitement in their set lists, the Ruffians still put on a good show – they managed to gather large crowds at each of their sets.

 

Mozart’s Sister

All the hens have been clucking over Mozart’s Sister. Caila Thompson-Hannant has been bouncingaround the Mile End’s hip-but-encouraging music scene for a few years now, but she is finally getting noticed thanks to her Arbutus label mate Grimes. When she performs as Mozart’s Sister, Thompson-Hannant belts it and sexes it up. She made sure to take advantage of the spotlight at her free show at Parc de la Petite-Italie on Thursday and at Eglise POP Little Burgundy on Saturday night.

 

Rich Aucoin

There is no such thing as a Rich Aucoin ‘show.’ It’s the Rich Aucoin experience. He pulled out the confetti, rainbow parachute and YouTube video memes galore at Divan Orange yet again. Aucoin may be one of the best performers out there; he convinces entire crowds to join him in reciting virtually all of the lyrics to his songs and whips them into a sweaty, dance-induced frenzy. He has toured relentlessly, bringing the ‘experience’ all over North America in the wake of his 2011 release, We’re All Dying To Live.

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