A weekend of eclectic musical experiences

An indepth look at the bands and artists of Taverne Tour

Taverne Tour shines a spotlight on lesser-known venues and local music. For its third edition, the festival featured 43 bands in 15 venues over four days. Despite the gruellingly cold of February, the weekend saw people flock to the festival’s shows en masse to experience Montreal’s finest in local and international music.

Day 1: Jan. 31

As the snow began to fall, a crowd of eager music fans flooded through the doors of the historic La Tulipe, on the corner of Mont-Royal and Papineau Ave. That night, the large concert hall  would play host to an event sure to set the tone for the weekend.

Galaxie held a free show in celebration of the release of their fifth studio album, Super Lynx Deluxe. Veterans of Montreal’s garage-rock scene, the group’s unapologetically spacey sound led them to a Polaris Music Prize shortlist nomination in 2011.

Despite its awkwardly early starting time, the venue was filled to the brim, so much so that late-coming audience members had to be ushered to the upper levels of the venue’s balcony. With only two singles released from the new record, a sense of anticipation ran rampant through a crowd eager to hear new material. Galaxie, no doubt, satisfied the crowd’s hunger.

The sextet, led by Fred Fortin on guitar and vox, energetically ripped through a short set bursting with noise and groove. Propelled especially by the group’s two percussionists, the show was bolstered by their emphatic enthusiasm. The new songs, played with tribal dance beats and elements of electronic music,  created a sound both contemporary and righteously timeless.

To build on the cosmic, discotheque vibe laid out by the music, the show was also a visually striking psychedelic affair. Multi-coloured lasers shot out from the stage in bunches, sometimes aimed directly at the large disco ball suspended from the ceiling, to create an overwhelming, spinning celestial display.

Day 2:  Feb. 1

Chloé Soldevila of Anemone serenading a sold-out audience. Photo by Charles Fretier-Gauvin

Le Ministère, housed in a former Bank of Montreal building from the mid-1910s, is one of the city’s newest concert venues. From the outside, the brutal concrete structure, adorned with thick columns and a meticulously sculpted coat of arms, seems like the last place in the world you’d go to see a rock show. Yet the space was familiar and welcoming, dimly lit by blue neon lights and packed for Taverne Tour’s most anticipated events—the acid-soaked disco impresarios, Wizaard; local idols and experts in 60s pastiche, Anemone; and curators of all things psychedelic, Memphis-based Spaceface.

Wizaard’s mellow set, stuffed with an effortless groove, sent the crowd into a dancing trance, readying them for the coming sets rather than stealing the show.

Considering the glitter of Anemone’s recent international success and their great local popularity, the group acted as the spiritual headliners of the night. Their set, effervescent and dreamy, enveloped the crowd with its hazy rhythms and velvety smooth psychedelia. The rhythm guitarist stood in the corner, clad in a stylishly baggy grey suit, sleepily strumming his gorgeous 12 string. Meanwhile, Anemone leader Chloé Soldevila stood centre stage at her keyboards, swaying carelessly, enchanting the audience and inviting them into her world.

While Anemone won the crowd over with their subtlety and gentle manner, Spaceface took a different approach, opting for a psychedelic energy the audience didn’t quite seem ready for. Formed by Flaming Lips member Jake Ingalls, Spaceface have made a name for themselves through their spacey, psych-rock sound and visual shows that strongly emphasize audience participation.

Despite playing a tight set, riddled with enough noise and psychedelia to make you squirm, Spaceface’s sound was familiar, and the crowd was left unengaged. Before the last song, Ingalls told the crowd how grateful he was for the turnout on a Thursday night. By then, however, the crowd had shrunk to about half its original size, making the comment feel more like a personal reinforcement than anything else.

Day 3:  Feb. 2

Some of the best musicians Montreal has to offer were at Pub West Shefford on Friday. That night’s show eclectically paired Dunes, a desert blues ensemble, with Teke Teke, a hyperactive surf rock band that takes as much from late 60s metal as they do from traditional Japanese music.

Half an hour before the show began, the small pub was already suffocatingly packed. In order to reach the stage at the front of the room, band members had to squeeze their gear through the mass of people standing shoulder to shoulder. They inevitably bumped into audience members, but always made sure to apologize. This sense of camaraderie foreshadowed a show that was one of the purest and most honest musical experiences I have ever witnessed.

The night began with Dunes, a group self-defined as a co-operative, united by their love of blues and African music traditions. Their set was a collection of heavily rhythmic blues jams led by a smiling man playing hand drums, two women dancing while playing traditional African percussion instruments, and a drummer whose ravishing style took more from jazz than anything else.

Photo by Charles Fretier-Gauvin

These jams were accentuated by a wailing harpist, who played his instrument through a distortion-laden microphone, and two guitarists swapping lead and rhythm duties and sometimes soloing in harmony.

Audience members danced and sang along to the songs they knew, embracing their proximity to one another and not minding the lack of visual display. Dunes closed their set with an African-inspired rendition of The Beatles’s classic “Get Back,” which sent the crowd into a heightened frenzy.

Following Dunes’ set, another half hour of chaotic gear-lugging occured before Teke Teke finally took the stage. Clad in matching kimonos—except the group’s flutist/keyboardist who was dressed like a 60s go-go dancer—the group launched into an assaulting surf rock tune. Though immediately recognizable as surf rock, Teke Teke’s sound is a diverse one, drawing from traditional Japanese music, late 60s metal and soul. The group’s trombonist gave their sound a welcome fullness, while the flute added a wistful element.

Toward the end of their set, Teke Teke welcomed guest vocalist Maya to the stage. Her voice knew no boundaries as she graciously and naturally shifted from a sensual croon to an unhinged wail.

The two encore songs were the most abrasive of the bunch, fast in tempo and noisy. One of the guitarists, who had previously been on rhythm duty, began fiercely soloing, using his strumming hand to tap the strings with a small rod. When the set ended, the buzzing crowd took their time leaving the packed room.

Photo by Charles Fretier-Gauvin


Taverne Tour promises fun, booze and plenty of noise

The festival’s third installment will bring 43 bands to 15 different venues

It’s late January, the holidays are over and the snow on the ground has begun to turn into a thick sheet of ice, promising the eventual—albeit, grudgingly slow—end of winter. For Montreal’s local music scene, however, this particular time of the year brings an equally optimistic occurrence: the return of the annual Taverne Tour.

Entering its third edition, the festival takes place from Jan. 31 to Feb. 3 and boasts a lineup consisting of local stalwarts such as Anémone, Solids, Mara Tremblay and Bloodshot Bill, and international acts like A Place to Bury Strangers, Spaceface and many, many more.

Taverne Tour is far from your average music festival. Structured akin to Austin’s famed South by Southwest—minus the excessive corporate branding known to bog it down—the four days of festivities see 43 bands playing 27 shows in 15 different venues. The venues mostly line Mont-Royal Boulevard in the heart of the Plateau, turning the busy street into a hotbed of rock and roll and sonic diversity for the weekend.

Not only does the festival support local artists in their quest to make a name for themselves internationally, it also shines a spotlight on lesser-known venues in Montreal—venues such as Le Ministère, located in an old bank building on St-Laurent Boulevard. With its interior recently renovated, the venue opened to the public in September 2017. After hosting events for Pop Montreal and M for Montreal, it rapidly rose to the upper ranks of the city’s nightlife. The large venue is hosting three events for the festival, and Xavier Auclair, the venue’s programming director, said he hopes to be part of the festival in the future.


Mothland bridges art and performance

The booking company’s inaugural performance went off without a hitch

A frenzy broke out at La Sala Rossa during the final song of Paul Jacobs’ rollicking set on Nov. 17. “This is a new song,” introduced Jacobs in his deadpanning drawl before launching into a fuzz-laden, garagey jam performed in his instantly recognizable style.

As the song came to a close, the band, in a move that would have put a smile on Bo Diddley’s face, dropped their instruments and picked up maracas, launching into a bouncy percussive jam. Inviting the crowd to join them, the venue’s large stage rapidly filled up with entranced concertgoers dancing and clapping to the rhythm. The sense of community was overwhelming and made even the most isolated people feel part of something.

Mothland is Montreal’s newest booking company, and Jacobs’ sold-out showcase, part of the M pour Montréal festival, was their grand debut. Formally conceived in the summer of 2017 by a handful of stalwarts of Montreal’s local music scene, Mothland serves as a loosely extended arm of Distorsion, an annual local psychedelic music festival entering its third year. While they stress their relaxed organizational structure, the Mothland founders admit that, if somebody were to be considered at the helm of the organization, it would be Marilyne Lacombe.

“I actually wake up in the morning,” Lacombe said, poking fun at her colleagues when we met for lunch at Casa del Popolo the afternoon before the show, we were joined by Philippe Larocque and Nasir Hasan, invaluable members of the Mothland family. “I’ve been working in festivals and music for a while,” Lacombe added.

Lacombe is the co-founder of Montreal’s annual Taverne Tour festival, which will be holding its third edition in February. She also played a key role in sending Sunwatchers and Paul Jacobs to this summer’s lauded Emergin Music Festival in Rouyn-Noranda, Que., as part of the Distorsion showcase. Her responsibilities at Mothland, however, are entirely different. “She once vulgarised it well,” Hasan told me. “Distorsion is buying; Mothland is selling.”

Fueled by their unassailable love for music and slight insanity, Mothland is run by the people, for the people. “The idea behind this is to bring better music to more people,” Lacombe said. “It’s really about building bridges between scenes.” In order to achieve this, they emphasize their quasi-communist approach to artist management, which vehemently veers away from the corporate, impersonal attitude they feel often dictates how other booking companies manage their artists. This requires staying active in the scene and working closely with their artists. “We’ve got a family vibe,” Lacombe said. “There are no boundaries. We all do everything together.”

A mainstay in Montreal’s excitingly diverse underground music scene, Jacobs has been sharing his unique brand of grunge psychedelia for over four years. Though he rose to fame as a one-man band, he recently made the switch to a more conventional full-band format, which emphasized the overblown textures displayed on his most recent LP, Pictures, Movies & Apartments. He also acts as a third of Mothland’s original core of artists, alongside the other two groups that shared the bill that night at La Salla Rossa—New York-based virtuosic jammers Yonatan Gat, and Atsuko Chiba, a local group whose calculated experimental sound defies words.

Mothland’s roster is unique in and of itself, composed of over a dozen artists hailing mostly from Montreal, as well as New York, Memphis and Detroit. “Basically all the bands on Mothland were bands that we were working with quite a bit already before [the company’s creation],” Lacombe said. Though the roster is an eclectic one, with artists from all ends of the sonic spectrum, they are all ultimately allied by what Lacombe calls “the psychedelic approach.”

“For us, it’s not a sound—it’s an approach,” Lacombe said. “It could be the content, the lyrics or how you present it.” This emphasis on diversity and the importance of the “psychedelic ideology” also explains their decision to include visual artists on the roster.

M for Montreal’s showcase, especially Yonatan Gat’s set, surely embodied this approach. With the band gathered in the centre of the room surrounded by the crowd, the venue suddenly shapeshifted into a sort of psychedelic arena. The crowd itself morphed into something unrecognizable. The rough-and-tumble spirit, which had accumulated during Jacobs’ set, quickly turned into a mesmerizing serenity which took over the audience. As the Yonatan Gat trio sailed through a dizzying set of pulsating psychedelia, the audience began to notice the more elegantly dressed members of the crowd swaying to the music. Though the audience had just noticed these people, they had been there the entire show, floating along with the night as it subtly contorted.

While the trio did not necessarily top the previous performances, they managed to completely transform the night, proving that the proper space is all it takes to build something beautiful. And supplying that space, is exactly what Mothland is doing.


An exploration of BJM

A look at the Brian Jonestown Massacre’s humble beginnings

I was first introduced to The Brian Jonestown Massacre (BJM) through an interview with Californian psych-pop duo Foxygen in early 2013. The latter group had just come out with their second studio record—the clumsily yet aptly titled We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic. I was floored by BJM’s style, which jumbled mod elegance with 60s Californian dirt à la Easy Rider. Their raucous sound was an unhinged take on the Brian Jones-era Rolling Stones.

Founded in San Francisco in 1990 by Anton Newcombe, the group’s rigid leader and only consistent member throughout their near 30 years of existence, BJM has never had a steady lineup. Instead, the band has seen a rotating cast of musicians come and go under Newcombe’s crude tutelage.

In 1991, they put out their first release, Pol Pot’s Pleasure Penthouse, a rough collection of poorly recorded, droney dream-pop in the form of a hand-dubbed, self-distributed cassette. Though far from their best work, it laid the groundwork for what would become one of the most consistently creative discographies of all time.

BJM’s first commercial record, 1995’s Methodrone, released on famed independant label Bomp!, is a classic in its own right. Though the record was widely overlooked by critics at the time, it remains a fan favourite, and was ranked 33rd by mega-blog Pitchfork in their 2016 list, “The 50 Best Shoegaze Albums of all Time.” Despite that, the group never made another record of the sort. Tracks such as “Wisdom,”—which would be re-recorded for 1998’s Strung out in Heaven, their only record on major indie label TVT—and “That Girl Suicide” remain mainstays in the BJM canon. The record’s closer, the seven-minute epic “She’s Gone,” stands as one of the group’s most powerful tracks, noted for its ability to find serene beauty in its excessive instrumental textures.

Throughout music’s long history, few bands have achieved the same level of cult success as BJM. While rarely seen topping, let alone appearing on “best of” lists, their music lives on today through groups that pull huge inspiration from them. Their cultish charm stems from their refusal to conform to pop conventions, which the band really put into effect in 1996. That year saw acts such as Weezer and Beck releasing weirdo slacker-pop gems that would go on to define the year musically. Newcombe, however, had different ideas.

For BJM, 1996 could go down as one of the group’s most prolific years. Not only did they release three full-length records within a six-month span, these records were deemed masterpieces, each showcasing a different facet of the group’s creative mind.

Take It from the Man!, released in May of that year, is considered the group’s fundamental record, showcasing them at their most deranged and prototypically “BJM-esque.” Featuring a sound so superfluously British, the one-two punch of openers “Vacuum Boots” and “Who?” possess a speed-fried psychedelia that’s both abrasive and inviting.

This theme of overblown Britannia would continue throughout the 69-minute tracklist, culminating in the 11-minute closer, “Straight Up & Down,” an overbearing ode to heroin riddled with breakdowns, solos and capped off with a vulgar ode to “Hey Jude.” Take It from the Man! also saw Newcombe hand over songwriting duties to bassist Matt Hollywood, whose naive rock-and-roll melodramaticism shined brightest in “Cabin Fever” and “In My Life.”

Toning it down a step, the BJM followed up that record with Their Satanic Majesties’ Second Request. Heavily influenced by The Rolling Stones’ psychedelic cult classic, Their Satanic Majesties Request, this sequel of sorts sees the group experimenting with expansive Indian-inspired drones and acid-drenched grooves. Tracks “Cold to the Touch,” “Miss June 75” and “Anemone” show the group at their most hypnotising, delivering subdued, swirling psychedelia tied together brilliantly by percussionist Joel Gion’s infectiously tight tambourine work.

Their third record of 1996, Thank God for Mental Illness, best demonstrates the group’s tireless work ethic and boundless creativity. Reported to have been recorded in a day for $17.36, the tracklist is comprised of psychedelic, blues-inspired folk songs—equal parts inspired by Bob Dylan, Keith Richards and Syd Barrett. Though less instrumentally complex than their previous efforts, the record’s dusty, lo-fi ambiance gives Newcombe a perfect platform to showcase his beautifully strange songwriting.

Give It Back! (1997) is undoubtedly their most straightforward, musically accessible release. It’s also their most ear wormy and most laden in 60s pastiche and irony. “Not If You Were the Last Dandy on Earth,” their quasi-parody of The Dandy Warhols and their neo-pop star image, shows the group at their most sardonic and confident. Or, alternatively, like a group about to crash.

Signing to large independant label TVT in 1998, BJM’s only record on the imprint would mark the beginning of the end of the group’s golden era. Noted for its cohesion and maturity, the workload on Strung Out in Heaven was benevolently spread out between Newcombe and Hollywood, due to Newcombe’s increasingly toxic heroin addiction. Despite flopping in the eyes of TVT, causing the label to drop them altogether, the album’s higher production value enabled BJM to craft some of their most nuanced songs to date. Hollywood penned songs “Love” and “Spun,” slow-building psychedelic jams, which utilized nostalgia in a way seldom heard in the band’s music.

Unfortunately, these tracks would be some of the final songs to feature Hollywood and the rest of the group’s core. The turn of the millennium saw the majority of the band dwindle out, either to pursue their own careers or simply out of frustration with Newcombe, marking a new era for Newcombe and The Brian Jonestown Massacre.

Graphic by Alexa Hawksworth

Music Quickspins

Shannon Lay – Living Water

Shannon Lay – Living Water (2017, Woodsist/Mare)

Continuing the tradition of post-hippie era folkies, who scrapped the free love sentiment of the 60s for a more pastoral and sentimental sound, L.A-based Shannon Lay can be spoken about in the same breath as icons of the genre. Her newest record, Living Water, is a testament to this sound. Brimming with gentle nostalgia and heartbreak, Living Water is tenderly personal and possesses an unimaginable beauty. The wispy vocals, gently fingerpicked guitar and occasional waves of violin come together serenely to paint the blue and green of the American West Coast, a picturesque region near and dear to the orange-haired Lay. Her use of strange, abstract lyrics adds an extra layer of mysticism to her already otherworldly music, rendering it effortlessly timeless. This LP will surely cement her in folklore alongside the likes of Sibylle Baier and Vashti Bunyan.


Trial Track: “The Moons Detriment”

Music Quickspins

The Lemon Twigs – Brothers of Destruction

The Lemon Twigs – Brothers of Destruction (2017, 4AD)

Long Island bred fraternal duo Brian and Michael D’Addario have music in their blood and are not afraid of flaunting it. Coming off a tremendous debut record, the Jonathan Rado-produced Do Hollywood, their most recent effort, a short, six track EP, acts as a cohesive follow-up. Though the EP does little to elaborate on the sound established by the teenagers on their Rado-produced joint, it shows the band toying with subtler songwriting. Ditching the exuberant melodic switches of their debut LP gives the album a sound very much of its own. This increased tenderness doesn’t take away from the group’s kinetic energy, however, as their sound, which blends 70s power-pop melodies with Sgt. Pepper’s-esque excess, sounds just as fresh and loaded with youthful enthusiasm. Slightly rough around the edges, Brothers of Destruction acts as a stellar document of a young group on the verge of finding their footing.


Trial Track: “Why Didn’t You Say That?”


The best and worst of POP Montreal

The week-long festival brought a plethora of bands to the city’s best concert venues

Following a decrease in enthusiasm over the last few years, there was a fair deal of pearl-clutching over whether or not the summer festival circuit was indeed losing its edge. This doesn’t seem to be much of a concern in Montreal.

As the summer leaves tint to brown, eager concert purists and artsy indie kids flocked to POP Montreal. In its 16th installment, the city-wide music festival still retains the magic that kept it going during its inception. The POP Montreal curators are probably the most well-versed tastemakers around.

Upon discovering all the festival had to offer over the last week, we found that POP is, by definition, a true music festival. But to insinuate that the festival is by all accounts “music first and questions later” is to denounce the key to POP’s success. And that formula for success stems from the festival’s adept understanding of how the music industry operates. There was plenty of music, sure, but gallery installations, Q&A panels, film screenings and programming for kids and families served as the affair’s main crux.

Integral to POP’s programming is an emphasis on the local arts and culture scene. While there was a slew of internationally touring acts at the top of the bill, their performances were supported by local concert staples.

Here’s how it all went down…


Blanck Mass

This year, F**k Button’s Benjamin John Power released his third solo album under the moniker Blanck Mass. The album is intended to symbolize “a previous year teeming with anger, violence, confusion and frustration.” As the brutally shrill opener, “The Rat,” unfolded into a fit of metallic synths and swells, attendees were seen covering their eardrums. The artist’s proclivity for noise injected his performance with an intensity unmatched by other performers.

Oh Sees

John Dwyer has maintained control over his project, Oh Sees, for the better part of two decades—changing lineups and shuffling between sonic territories while churning out some of the most compelling and nail-biting psychedelic music of his generation. Still, despite its propensity for unpredictability, Oh Sees pins down an unparalleled vivacity. This same spirit clearly overtook Dwyer, as he danced and pranced around stage with a devil-may-care inclination.
This didn’t compromise the quality of the performance, however, as his nervy guitar dexterity propelled him through the set. Though this compiled into a rugged, relatively unadorned sound, Dwyer’s franticly kinetic energy was supplemented by his bandmates’ breakneck riffs.


Weyes Blood

Weyes Blood has a brand of artistic finesse that translates just as powerfully live as it does on record. The velvety textures of her voice were often replaced by an infusion of rootsy folk with fuzzy AM rock—styles she no doubt pulls inspiration from. The audience witnessed the artist switch flexibly between scornful kiss-offs and flowery poetics on the turn of a dime. The new Sub Pop Records signee offered no sneak peaks from her forthcoming record, but flexed a variety of fleshed out renditions from her debut, Front Row Seat. The adaptability with which the backing band postured itself allowed them to cycle through the set like the pulse of a heartbeat.



Jay Som

After breaking into 2017 with an ever-poised and confident debut, indie pop artist Jay Som basked in the divine glow of the Petit Campus stage. She performed a collection of gorgeously ornate and burgeoning pop songs with an artistic slant that absorbs from the lofty heights of 80s synth rock.






Naomi Punk

To call Olympia-based trio Naomi Punk alienating would be a crude understatement. The band forged their career with a discombobulated brand of surrealistic grunge and an equally bizarre bass-free lineup. While they’ve amassed a fair share of doubters, the band has no doubt achieved cult status within their specific niche.

Their headlining gig at La Vitrola on POP Montreal’s opening day on Sept. 13, however, did nothing to win over skeptics. Though the energy was there on stage, the lack of bass rendered the set laughably disjointed. The group’s twin guitarists drowned the crowd in a muddle of twangy cacophony.

The trio played as if breaking into abstract jam sessions—performed in the disjointed manner you would associate with school kids playing music together for the first time. The sets closing song, “Tiger Pipe,” a bleary, minimalistic single from their recent double album, Yellow, would go on to define the set.

Performed over a pre-recorded backing track, the audience looked on as the lead guitarist packed up his gear and walked off during the set. Meanwhile, the drummer sat on in his throne having seemingly fallen asleep and the lead singer put his guitar down and began testing his interpretive dance skills whilst howling in his signature Cobainian drawl. A fitting end to a night of noise, confusion and disappointment.

Photos by Mackenzie Lad


A beginner’s guide to C86 music

The short-lived style blended sticky pop melodies with tender poetics

Lacking the cosmopolitan cool of the mod revivalists, the existential ennui of the post-punkers, and the glitter of the new romantics, the rise of the C86 movement in the 80s was sudden and bizarre. In a way, it seemed fitting considering the artists at the style’s core.

C86 was first coined by the British magazine NME in their eponymous 1986 cassette compilation, created with the purpose of unearthing new groups from Britain’s burgeoning indie pop scene. The term served not only as a descriptor for the jangly, overblown pop sound of the groups, but of the shambling and emotionally fickle mentality that existed behind them.

In essence, C86 was more of a movement than a singular musical style. Very much a regional affair, the groups hailed from smaller middle-class communities rather than the metropoles usually associated with the glitter of rock-and-roll stardom. The groups themselves mirrored their peculiar musical upbringing, as the movement was primarily perpetuated by tenderly lovesick middle-class kids with nothing else to do but pour their feelings into song.

Former NME writer Andrew Collins summed it up perfectly when he referred to the movement as “the most indie thing to have ever existed.” Characterized by its healthy use of jangly guitars and superfluous pop melodies draped in a thick blanket of sentimentality, the honesty which sifted through this formula is what gave C86 its charm. This allowed it to withstand time and remain ever-present within the scope of British indie-pop.

The Pastels, a Glaswegian group led by Stephen McRobbie, is the group that best personified the sentiment of C86. As delicate and soft-spoken as they were abrasive and disjointed, this duality was first presented in their 1982 debut seven inch vinyl record Songs for Children. The record would influence hordes of young Brits to pick up instruments and capture the same emotion. While far from their best work, the cultural impact of this seven inch proved immense, becoming somewhat of a cornerstone for the C86 movement to come.

This trend would live on through groups such as the Edinburgh-based band Shop Assistants, whose nervy, black leather pop shined brightest in their charmingly bitter ode to an ex-lover, “I Don’t Want to be Friends With You,” and The Flatmates, a Bristol-based group who broke out at the same time with their dreamy pop anthem, “I Could be in Heaven.” Largely rooted in punk, the bubblegum coated melodies, lo-fi scuzz and 60s girl group influence allowed these groups to deviate from the norm. This approach created an original and contemporary sound which reflected not just the music scene, but the era itself.

Expanding even further into sonic territories were Paisley-natives Close Lobsters. Their debut single, “Going to Heaven to See if it Rains,” released by Fire Records, incorporated a tinge of psychedelia. This influence proved rare in the context of C86, as it drew more from the subtle ethereal tones of contemporary British groups than the acid-soaked psychedelia of the 60s. Still, this dash of dream pop injected the Scottish quintet with a fuller sound and made them one of the most endearing and influential groups of the movement. Their 1987 debut album, Foxheads Stalk This Land, a record chock-full of twee anthems, drew from The Byrds as much as they did from Cocteau Twins. This balance of differing sounds perfectly encapsulates C86, as it stands as one of the few classic LP’s from the movement.

Despite its naive facade, to dismiss the C86 style would be a crime. Many groups, such as the groovily soft-spoken Mighty Mighty and the aforementioned Close Lobsters, integrated outspoken political messages in their music. However, the group that best translated its politics to music was undoubtedly the London-based McCarthy. Sporting an especially shambolic sound, the group incorporated strong left-wing politics in their music. This political slant would consume nearly every one of the McCarthy’s singles released in the five years they were together and cemented the band’s legacy in C86 lore.

The vast influence C86 had on future generations is hard to miss. The cataclysmic rise of Britpop acted as a follow-up of sorts to the movement. This was especially perpetuated by less polished groups like Elastica and Supergrass. The past few years have seen a rise in groups channeling the aesthetics of the heartbroken mid-80s pop kids. Bands such as Alvvays, Girlpool and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart play a crucial role in preserving the C86 style. These bands still incorporate contemporary influences, however, to craft their own sound. And yet, this is added proof that the spirit of C86 still lives on.

Graphic by Zeze Le Lin


Kevin Morby live at Bar Le “Ritz”

The songwriter’s performance on Monday was a rollercoaster of emotion

Nostalgia within the scope of popular music, though often overused to the point of cliché, can add intensity to a song. A well-written song can take you back to a specific time and place. It can trigger intricate, acute memories and feelings to the point where you almost feel the air as you felt it in that moment. Following his recent sold-out gig at local favorite Bar Le “Ritz,” Los-Angeles based psychedelia-tinged folkster Kevin Morby did more than simply prove his status as a master of nostalgia; he took the crowd along with him on a journey.

Clad in a blue suit embroidered with bold white musical notes and his initials stitched on the jacket’s lapels, Morby took centre stage surrounded by his touring band. The band consisted of guitarist and backing vocalist Meg Duffy—whose solo work under the moniker Hand Habits has earned her plaudits for its lush melodies drenched in fragile sentimentality—as well as bassist Cyrus Gengras and drummer Nick Kinsey.

Kevin Morby’s effortless cool was a breath of fresh air during his performance at Bar Le “Ritz” on Monday. Photo by Ariane Besozzi

Running like a well-oiled machine, the musicians worked together in perfect harmony. The more energetic album cuts, such as Morby’s “1234” and barnyard garage-rock jam “Dorothy,” were reinterpreted with a punk-rock grit and intensity that was lacking from their recorded counterparts. The group often broke into sprawling CSNY-esque country rock jams with the help of Duffy’s guitar heroics. It was the more tender moments, however, that defined the show. In these moments, we heard Morby at his most earnest, his vocals unforced yet necessary and brimming with the kind of raw emotion you can’t capture with recording equipment. Morby even switched to piano once during the gig. Though the live set was less instrumentally complex than Morby’s albums, this simplicity gave it a raw sentimental ambience, acting as an avenue for him to convey his nostalgia. And this he did, but not without the help of his backing band. Kinsey played with large mallets, and Duffy oftentimes backed up Morby on slide guitar. The textures and sonic colours created by the group completely enthralled and enveloped the crowd, and gave the sold-out show a sense of intimacy.


The show reached its nostalgic climax before the encore when the band packed up and left the stage, leaving only Morby. He was now clad in a cowboy hat and gripping an acoustic guitar. Swiftly gliding into a cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “Colorado Girl,” he followed it with the show’s closer “Beautiful Strangers,” an imagery-ridden protest song. In these tracks, he let his voice convey the colours of his nostalgia, transporting the crowd to a world that was truly his, and making them forget everything about themselves. This factor is thanks to Morby’s organic instrumentation and devout influences. Throughout the night, the musician channeled the same resonant chords as Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, but provided a edge all his own. While some might have been stuck standing behind one of the venue’s ill-placed poles or sandwiched between an uncomfortably intimate couple and a man reeking of sweat and alcohol, others were with a young Morby—driving through American mountains, enveloped in fresh air and heartbreak.


Fresh faces and a new beginning

CJLO’s recent facelift will provide quality campus radio for everyone

“Campus Radio is for Lovers” are the words sprawled across the white T-shirt hung in the hallway by CJLO 1690 AM’s offices at the Loyola campus. The bubbly red font is reminiscent of the 70s—an era of extravagance, groove and one in which radio reigned supreme. In our internet age, where everything is digitized and readily accessible at the tips of our fingers, radio seems to be a bygone medium. Its failure to adapt to the needs of the current-day consumer has rendered it futile and irrelevant. College radio, however, proves to be the sole exception, acting as the last vestige of an archaic platform.

Nestled at the far end of the CC building’s fourth floor, reaching the station requires you to awkwardly trudge through the Guadagni Lounge. Upon entering the station, however, its charm immediately takes over. The sound of music buzzing from speakers greets you as you pass by the in-house studio space and DJ room.

A community-driven operation, CJLO 1690 AM is run by a devoted team of DJs and volunteers. “We are not for profit,” said Allison O’Reilly, the station’s program director, whose CV includes commercial radio gigs in Nova Scotia. “Everything we do is in service of the students and of the local music scene. We try to stay progressive, we try to avoid commercialisation, we try to appeal to underground music. So everything I value.”

O’Reilly, alongside station manager Michał Langiewicz, and director of promotions, sponsorship and funding Josh Spencer, make up the “big three.” They are a tireless trio with invaluable experience in the industry, which makes them a tremendous asset to the station. They are also fresh faces to the station, having all joined the team within the past year, after the exodus of a large portion of the longtime staff. “It was like a domino effect,” Langiewicz said. “A lot of people were graduating, a lot of people had been there for a while and felt like it was time to move on.”

The change, although major, is generally seen as positive. This coming school year marks the newly-assembled staff’s first year together and seems to be the dawning of a new era for the station. Though the new staff greatly commend their predecessors’ work at the station, they made it clear they plan on revamping CJLO as much as possible. “I think it’s a new opportunity for us to expand into different directions,” said Langiewicz, who first broke into the city’s music scene through BAD LUNCH, a DIY concert venue he ran out of his Pointe-St-Charles home. “It’s kind of continuing a legacy, but taking it in a new direction.”

The changes made to the station deal, in part, with modernizing its programming by introducing more progressive shows into its already packed rotation. “We have LGBTQ programming, we have programming which deals with social and racial issues, and that’s something I feel the station didn’t have as much of in the past,” Langiewicz said. “We’re definitely looking to go in a direction that’s covering more ground and representing as many different people as possible.”

Allison O’Reilly’s enthusiasm about CJLO’s future is infectious.

The most noticeable update is the new staff’s dedication to increasing community involvement. This new direction is obvious in the station’s upcoming promotional events. Hiring Josh Spencer, the founder of the local music event planning company Kick Drum, as director of promotions, has certainly helped. “He’s very attuned to what’s happening in the local music scene, so since he came in all of a sudden, Montreal bands came in,” O’Reilly said. Despite his recent arrival, Spencer’s  promotions expertise has proven momentous, as his summer backyard sessions have been greeted with great applause from spectators and artists alike.

The station’s biggest event, its annual FUNDrive, takes place from Sept. 22 to 30 on both campuses. The event will be a grand debut of sorts for the new trio. Showcasing their experience, as well as the station’s new direction, the eight-day event is going to be jam-packed with 10 events ranging from a heavy metal showcase to a soccer tournament. The proceeds will go to the station, allowing its staff to make improvements and continue pursuing their vision.

With regard to the importance of campus radio, O’Reilly said, “while it may not seem relevant [within the scope of modern media], what we can do to support those who wouldn’t otherwise have a platform in mainstream media, I believe, is very important and still relevant.”

Photos by Kirubel Mahari

Music Quickspins

Hand Habits – Wildly Idle (Humble Before the Void)

Hand Habits – Wildly Idle (Humble Before the Void) (Woodsist, 2017)

Having plied her trade for years as lead guitarist in the Kevin Morby Band, Wildly Idle (Humble Before the Void) is the songwriter’s debut album. It’s the one fans have been waiting for. Playing around with her instantly recognizable guitar sound, which has become a staple of Morby’s live shows, she takes it one step further to create something of her own. Wildly Idle is a truly personal affair. Lyrically brimming with emotional fragility, her use of warm, tender guitar tones brings the listener closer, killing off any sort of uneasiness, and installing a sense of “we’re in this together.” Her songs are slow gentle pieces of spacey folk riddled with lap-steel and soft atmospherics that rarely change pace. They create a hypnotising tone which engulfs the listener, allowing them to get lost in the melodies. Wildly Idle is an album which incites comfort—a subdued gem by a young artist with a heavy heart.

Trial Track: “All the While”



Beginner’s guide to 60s garage rock

A time machine back to 60s youth culture along with the best albums and hits

In 1972—45 years ago, now—legendary music writer, producer and guitarist for the Patti Smith group, Lenny Kaye, teamed up with Elektra Records founder Jac Holzman to put together a compilation which would forever change the scope of music to come. The compilation in question was Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, a two-disc assemblage of 27 of the best American garage rock cuts released between 1965 and 1968. Not only did this collection prove to a myriad of aspiring musicians that instrumental mastery isn’t all it takes to make great music, catalyzing the punk scene of the 70s. It also installed the long-bygone garage rock genre—one which was often downplayed in its time by music critics as being overly simple and childish—as a legitimate and respected one. Nuggets shines a light on a horde of forgotten acts whose music would influence generations to come, and serves as gold-standard collector’s item for record enthusiasts.

Though garage rock music is instantly recognizable, it’s incredibly difficult to stifle down to a singular definition. This is due to the great creativity of the genre’s bands as a result of the DIY nature of the music. Styles such as blues, R&B, rock and roll and especially the British-Invasion music of the early 60s, led by groups such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, played a large role in shaping these groups’ sounds. Garage rock instrumentation would usually consist of vocals, guitars, bass and drums. The genre would often feature a small organ and heavy psychedelic effects which fell in line with the drug craze of the late 60s. This collision of older music styles with the careless, drug-fueled sentiment of the time enabled these bands to create truly unique sounds which now act as a crucial snapshot of the era.

In retrospect, it’s clear that mid-60s garage was very much a singles-dominated style. While many groups recorded one or two major hits, their output often capped there. Bands such as L.A.’s the Standells, whose raving ode to Boston, “Dirty Water,” stands not only as one of the best garage rock songs ever recorded, but as one of the best period. The Electric Prunes, whose eerily psychedelic “I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)” shares similar credentials, and stands as prime a example of this phenomenon.

Todd Rundgren’s group, Nazz, is perhaps the most interesting example of this happening. Formed in Philadelphia in 1967, the group caught their big break opening for the Doors later that year. Despite releasing three commercially-shunned LPs, the band now stands as one of the most influential garage groups of all time. Their acclaim stems from their 1968 single “Open My Eyes,” a track which blended swirling psychedelia with raving pop melodies into a mind-boggling perfection, and helped pioneer styles such as power pop, while acting as the blueprint for Rundgren’s fruitful solo career. In fact, “Hello It’s Me,” the single’s B-side, was later redone by Rundgren in 1973, and became arguably his biggest commercial success.

To call garage rock a singles-led style is not to discount the importance of the LPs that came out of the era. Indeed, a plethora of groups found success past the single and went on to record cohesive records which proved equally vital in marking the era. Texas-based band The 13th Floor Elevators stand as arguably the most important example. Often credited with inventing psychedelic rock as we know it, 1966’s trippy proto-punk opus, The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators, proved massively influential to generations of musicians to come and is now considered a seminal piece of modern music.

Fellow psychedelic purveyors, the Music Machine, led by the legendary Sean Bonniwell, is another group whose success surpassed 45s, as the group shined a light on pop’s dar

ker side in its iconic, mellotron-driven 1966 release (Turn On) The Music Machine. On the other end of the spectrum lie LA’s the Seeds, who earned plaudits with their 1966 self-titled effort. The record utilised sun-soaked, acid-fried melodies to convey tales of youthful frustration. Other notable groups to reach this level of withstanding album success are Boston’s the Remains (The Remains, 1966), whose knack for pop songwriting matched their keen musical abilities, and Seattle’s the Sonics (Here Are The Sonics, 1965), who were much heavier than any other group of the era. These aforementioned groups, as well as countless others, played a key role in establishing the garage rock style as more than snotty kids recording poorly-performed covers in their parents’ basements.

The fact that garage rock has stayed relevant for so long and is still played in abundance around the world today speaks volumes about its cultural significance. The boom in popularity of this musical style can be largely attributed to Lenny Kaye and his Nuggets compilation, which was the first to shine a positive light on this music following its fading-away in the late-60s. Not only did garage rock music provide an interesting snapshot of late 1960s youth culture, but it offered an innumerable amount of kids a musical voice they never knew they had.

Recommended Albums:

  1. The 13th Floor Elevators – The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators (International Artists, 1967)
  2. The Music Machine – (Turn On) The Music Machine (Original Sound, 1966)
  3. The Remains – The Remains (Epic, 1966)
  4. The Seeds – The Seeds (GNP Crescendo, 1966)
  5. The Sonics – Here Are The Sonics (Etiquette, 1965)
  6. The Monks – Black Monk Time (Polydor, 1966)
  7. ? & the Mysterians – 96 Tears (Cameo-Parkway, 1966)
  8. The Count Five – Psychotic Reaction (Double Shot, 1966)
  9. The Shadows of Knight – Gloria (Dunwich, 1966)
  10. The Chocolate Watchband – No Way Out (Tower, 1967)

Recommended Singles (From non-album groups):

  1. “Dirty Water”: The Standells (Tower, 1965)
  2. “I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)”: The Electric Prunes (Reprise, 1966)
  3. “Respect”: The Vagrants (Atco, 1967)
  4. “(We Ain’t Got) Nothin’ Yet”: The Blues Magoos (Mercury, 1966)
  5. “Open My Eyes”: Nazz (SGC, 1968)
  6. “She’s About A Mover”: Sir Douglas Quintet (Tribe, 1965)
  7. “A Public Execution”: Mouse and the Traps (Fraternity, 1965)
  8. “The Trip”: Kim Fowley (Corby, 1965)
  9. “Liar, Liar”: The Castaways (Soma, 1965)
  10. “Action Woman”: The Litter (Scotty, 1967)
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