of Montreal’s modern aesthetic appeal

The band’s image and performances are enhanced with their wild aesthetic creativity

If he’s not covered in shaving cream emerging from a coffin or rockin’ a cute frilly skirt and fishnets, then chances are that of Montreal’s frontman, Kevin Barnes, might just be performing in nothing but a ribbon seductively wrapped around his body (leaving all the good parts exposed).

Originating from the depths of Athens, Georgia, this paragon of an artistic orgy goes beyond the goal of auditory magnificence to bring its listeners complete corporeal and transcendental liberation through the multiple forms of art they create.

Yet somehow, the band’s mastermind lives up to Lord Gunge’s (from hip-hop funk duo Grand Buffet) label of being “the kinkiest motherfucker I have ever seen in my

Of Montreal play at the Mohawk. Photo by Landry Edwards.

life” as said in an interview for the documentary of the band called The Past is a Grotesque Animal. This emphasis on their visual appearance is in no way a distraction from lazy song writing, nor are they trying to sell a lifestyle as many contemporary musicians attempt, but rather, their optical artistry is simply one piece of the overall brilliance they ooze.

It’s moderately impossible to describe the aesthetic madness within of Montreal’s wacky theatrics, save for maybe a kaleidoscopic mind-fuck that incorporates gender-bending, morphsuits and horse riding in nothing but gold booty shorts (yes, they actually had a live horse on stage back in 2008 at the Roseland Ballroom, NYC). Even the mere words that describe it seem like a watered down version of what actually goes on inside the venue walls at one of their concerts. Being not nearly as insignificant or unheard of as one might have presupposed, of Montreal has toured with artists such as Deerhoof and MGMT, borrowed a band member from Elf Power, collaborated with Foxygen, Solange Knowles, Janelle Monae, had a song featured in an episode of Weeds and even had Susan Sarandon perform at a few of their shows who explained, in the documentary: “the first time I met the band I was actually kind of [dressed up as] a teacher with a ruler and I sat on Kevin and spanked a man in a naked pig costume.”

The only thing weirder than their look might just be the music itself, ranging from Sesame Street-like echoes to glam-funk bursts of psychotic energy. Song titles that go from “Happy Yellow Bumblebee,”  to “Big Tittied Sluts,” each album exploring a different universe of style without sacrificing their ‘authenticity,’ whatever that may be. What’s even more impressive is how they’ve manage to pull this all off without insane amounts of money and professional designers that modern pop artists have access to: it’s Barnes’ brother David who directs the skits and costume designs they feature at their concerts. Back in 2013 during an interview with WKDU Philadelphia 91.7FM, Kevin described that “of Montreal has sort of become its own collective within itself with all of these people contributing ideas, and working together, [it’s] my brother and my wife that do a lot of the album artwork and animation that we have live. Everyone is performing different roles within the group.” This renders of Montreal one of the few unique ensembles that radiate complete sensory titillation through extremely personal and genuine lyricism: they simply take ‘art’ to a whole different level.

The band is releasing their 13th studio Album Aureate Gloom on March 3.


Local band on the stand: Mercure

Young Montreal band steps onto the music scene with genre-fusing jams

The Montreal music scene is known to never disappoint and the band Mercure is the perfect example of that.

I have rarely witnessed a group of boys so passionate about the music they create.  Emmanuel Harvey-Langlois, Clément Fournier-Drouin, Vithou Thurber-Promtep, Jérome Bazin, Ismaël Koné and Olivier Couture make up Mercure, a francophone, jazz/rock band that recently released their first EP, Sous Nos Pas.

The band started when the guys were in high school and all good friends.  Harvey-Langlois had the guitar, Thurber-Promtep had the piano, Koné the saxophone, Couture the bass, Bazin the drums and Fournier-Drouin the voice.  Together, they jammed and realized they had something. They started writing in 2012 and playing in small venues that same year.

Music is a big part of their lives; not only is it their passion, but also part of their education.  Most of the members of the group actually study their instruments at CEGEP de Saint-Laurent, and most plan on continuing their musical studies at the university level.

“I’ve played piano since the age of five and quickly took interest in jazz piano. It just gives you a certain freedom when you play and write that a classical training wouldn’t have given me,” said Thurber-Promtep.

The band’s music is hard to put into a specific genre. Their sound is indie-rock, intertwined with a strong jazz presence. The group also plays with computerized and street sounds to give their songs more dimension. It all just works. Due to the musical background of the band, half the pleasure comes from listening to the original musical fusions they create. The saxophone beautifully complements the sound they are trying to achieve and they even squeeze in some trumpet when they can. The musicality is on point and the lyrics are well written.

I got to know the boys through mutual friends in 2013 and have gotten to know their musical preferences. Their inspirations really come through in their songs: Radiohead, Flying Lotus, Harmonium and Snarky Puppy are only a few of the group’s favourites.

The band has experienced a recent boom in popularity with the release of their EP and creation of their Facebook page, where they keep everyone up to date with upcoming shows and performances.

On Sunday, Jan. 25, the band performed at the trendy Verre Bouteille bar on Mont-Royal.  Attracting over 130 people, the vibe in the bar, which was filled to capacity, was great. The place was dark, everyone chatting excitedly. The show opened with the Jeanne Côté band. She sang beautiful nostalgic tunes with her strong and enchanting voice, while her bassist and drummer supported her with insane coolness. Côté and her group’s sound perfectly complemented the main act.

Mercure played all their original songs during the show, which panned out very nicely.  They started off with a slower pace, and really built momentum and confidence by the third song.  “The more I play, the calmer I feel,” said Couture. “I kind of just get over the initial nerves and just groove.”

The best thing about the band, is how much fun they have on stage.  They all have such different personalities that really come through when they perform.  “What I love about performing is the interaction between the audience and us. It’s an incredible feeling to share what we do with friends, friends of friends, and complete strangers. It’s kind of like a dialogue. Their response to what we do is what gives us that rush,” said Harvey-Langlois.

All in all, Mercure is a band to look out for. They work hard, think big, and experiment with sound and musical genre.

Mercure has an upcoming show on March 14 at O Patro Vys. They are currently planning future shows and writing new songs.  Be sure to like their Facebook page, and check out their EP at


Roman Remains create ‘a hybrid of elements’ on their album Zeal

Discussing the band’s history, evolution and reconfiguration

Over the past decade, Leila Moss, Luke Ford, Toby Butler and Dan Higgins have grown together in a most unique way. Moss, the current lead singer of the U.K./Los Angeles-based band, Roman Remains, met Ford back in Cheltenham, U.K, where they formed a band called Solomon. They soon melted into a band called The Duke Spirit and rippled their way into the indie music scene of Europe and America.

The English rock band based in London, described as a cross between industrial electronic and indie, The Duke Spirit touched upon a vast musical spectrum, from rhythmic “atlantic soul” and Motown influences, to alternative rock bands such as The Jesus and Mary Chain and Spiritualized. Sticking together as a band for over a decade, Moss said the six-piece group began as a “word of mouth” band, gaining traction at the 2006 Coachella festival, moving on to play a number of high-profile support slots for Queens of the Stone Age and R.E.M. and appearing on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Press photo

While The Duke Spirit took a break from touring, Ford took a one year leave to raise his newborn son. In the meantime, Moss and Butler put life into a new band persona they were developing, Roman Remains.

“It was about this time last year that we were living for a month in the Mile End recording an album with Damian Taylor, the Grammy-nominated music producer who has collaborated with superstar Bjork, UNKLE, The Prodigy, and the Arcade Fire,” said Moss. “He is simply a genius.”

This much anticipated new project is touring around the US and Canada in what is promised to be an alternative electro lovers’ dream tour. The band is currently touring on Gary Numan’s 2014 Splinter Tour, hitting major North American cities such as Los Angeles, New York, Toronto and our very own Montreal.

When asked how Moss and Butler came up with the name Romain Remains, Moss laughed.

“It’s kind of a joke Toby had written down. You see, musically we haven’t evolved that much and we have remained rather primal. Toby and I agreed that we must have moved from a prehistoric age to Roman,” laughed Moss.

Their album Zeal pushes the dynamics of The Duke Spring in a completely new indie direction. Just look at their flagship music video for the song “This Stone is Starting to Bleed.” The story follows a crystal blue-eyed shaman, that crosses the looks of a Tusken Raider from the Star Wars Universe and something out of an ‘80s horror film, performing a peculiar ritual as the members of Roman Remains watch from the shadows.

“We are growing organically and we have never really sat around the dinner table trying to define our music. The foundations are clearly electronica, it has the live show, the live drum…and it’s really a hybrid of elements we found interesting,” said Moss.

From a residency at LA’s Sayers Club, to tag-teaming with Big Black Delta and Gary Numan for SXSW, the duo has come a long way in a short amount of time. Moving at an incredible speed, Moss’ only words of inspiration are “bring it on, we want all of it. Bring it on American and European festivals, we love to see people ascend on a spiritual level with our music.”

Roman Remains will be performing at Cafe Campus on March 25, opening for Gary Numan. Tickets cost $25 in advance and $30 at the door.


Exploring an explosive instrumental sound

This Thursday night at the Bell Centre, the lights will dim and Explosions in the Sky will unleash their “cathartic mini-symphonies” to a crowd of thousands. The Austin based four-piece will open for industrial rock veterans Nine Inch Nails along the first leg of their Tension 2013 Tour to promote their latest album. In a recent interview with The Concordian, guitarist Mark Smith shared how four young aspiring musicians came to play alongside one of the biggest names in music.

Explosions in the Sky formed in Austin, Texas, back in 1999. Chris Hrasky, the band’s drummer, is an Illinois native while the remaining three members are from Texas.

“I moved to Austin to go to the University, but had dropped out,” said Smith.

As fate would have it, Hrasky had posted up a flyer to attract musicians with “Wanted: Sad Triumphant Rock Band” printed on it in hopes of forming a band. Because of the flyer, the three musicians answered the call, came together and have been playing as a band since. With such a crucial point in their genesis based entirely on luck, Smith claims that “It’s just weird to think if he had never put up that flyer or we had never seen it…I try not to think about it.”

If he were not part of Explosions in the Sky, Smith says he would have wanted to be the general manager of a professional basketball team. “I’m fairly certain that’s what I was born to do but got side tracked by music,” jokes Smith.

Being an almost purely instrumental band, Explosions in the Sky drew on a long list of musical influences including Metallica, Fugazi, Pavement -the creators of Smith’s favourite album, Slanted and Enchanted-, Jawbreaker, and The Cure, to churn out their first album, How Strange, Innocence, in 2000. “In the early years, it seemed like we wrote at a pretty ferocious pace, like it was just pouring out of us. We had found a sound and were just feverishly trying to develop it and explore it. Not to mention we were renting practice spaces by the hour,”said Smith. “We’ve never taken more than two weeks to record an album,” he added.

After being together for only a year, the band was already feverishly working on their second album, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever and it was clear to them that they had put together something special. The four members tattooed the angel depicted on their second album cover onto each of their left wrists. “It really solidified how serious we were. We’ve always referred to them as our wedding rings,” said Smith.

Having created the original score for the recent David Gordon Green film Prince Avalanche starring Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch, the band has been increasingly busy.While not new to scoring screen productions—having filled out most of the soundtrack for the TV series Friday Night Lights—this venture is a different beast from traditional album composition. The band had composed a song for Green’s previous film Snow Angel and with Green currently living in Austin, the matchup seemed like a natural fit.

While artist and director at times do not see eye to eye in scoring films, Smith stated,“this was kind of a dream project in that it just went extremely smoothly and we all ended up happy.” While the 15 song soundtrack is well composed, do not expect to hear any of the band’s newest material on stage.“We only get 40 minutes for our sets on these tours, so we’ll be playing four or five songs from our albums every night.” However, these songs might one day be played live: “I don’t think it’s out of the question that we’ll play a song from the movie the next time we do our own tour.”

As for their current tour with headliner Nine Inch Nails, Smith and the rest of the band are not feeling overly nervous about playing before such  large crowds. “We’ve been doing it long enough that we have confidence in what we’re doing,” Smith asserts. He added that even if the show goes south, their goal is only to “do our thing and hopefully it sparks something in some people.” While the band have been fans of Nine Inch Nails since their 1989 release Pretty Hate Machine, none of the members had previously ever seen the band live in concert.

Despite recording movie soundtracks and their ever expanding tour lineup, the band have not lost their sense of wonder and of humour. When asked what type of animal he would most likely be, Smith answered that he had once looked in the mirror and “thought (he) was a wolf”.

Explosions in the Sky open at the Bell Centre Oct.3 for Nine Inch Nails.



photo caption: Instrumental rock band Explosions in the Sky perform with Nine Inch Nails on the “Tension 2013” Tour.



FIDLAR is living the high life like nobody’s watching

FIDLAR by Owen Richards

Fuck It, Dog. Life’s a Risk. The acronym was first a skateboarding term, and bassist Brandon Schwartzel explained that “If someone was unsure [about a skate trick], we’d be like, ‘FIDLAR man!’ and they’d be like, ‘Alright, I’m gonna go for it!’”

Schwartzel and the friendly hooligans who make up FIDLAR – vocalist/guitarists Zac Carper and Elvis Kuehn, as well as drummer Max Kuehn – grew up in skate-influenced regions like Los Angeles and Hawaii. The soundtracks that accompanied Tony Hawk and other skate video-games were a big influence on the band’s sound, which is often described as garage, pop and punk rock. Schwartzel improves the description by adding in that they’re “loud and rowdy.”

Although they’re not big skaters anymore “because you just get hurt too much,” Schwartzel shared that the name FIDLAR was appropriately adopted by band members. The philosophy of the acronym follows the band members as they bump around North America in their tour van.

“[FIDLAR represents] not caring so much about what you’re going to do with your life, just living in the moment and being like, ‘Fuck it, fuck what people tell you to do and what they think you should be doing.’ Just do what you want and have fun doing it.”

FIDLAR’s new album bottles the wild child and chill vibes of life rolling down sunny L.A. streets, then moving into nights, drunk and drugged. Each loud and upbeat song is drenched in their carefree attitude and touches upon youthful misdemeanors and intoxicated endeavors.

Their shows stay true to this as well: Schwartzel explained how the intimate feel of their early shows in empty parking lots, basements, and warehouses is still preserved with growing crowds.

“We’ll invite kids on stage to come up and hang out with us while we’re playing,” he said. “People who came to see you play are actually on stage with you, bumping into you.”

Schwartzel went on to highlight how during their rowdy warehouse shows, “Our shit gets unplugged or your gear breaks or someone steps on your pedals or knocks your amp over, so it can sometimes become difficult to play.”

Shows in concert venues are sometimes appreciated by the band because “[their] stuff doesn’t get broken.”

On a past tour with Swedish rockers The Hives, after a show at Montreal’s Metropolis venue, the bassist shared the events of a wild night when “we got these kids into the show, and they brought us some questionable substances […] We went pretty big that night, and the skateboards came out of the van which is never a good thing to do when you’re really wasted. So everyone just started falling and eating shit, but no one could feel it, we were all just laughing.”

The next morning was characterized by deep gashes, scratches and extensive bruising.

“That was a pretty good one,” Schwartzel added, laughing.

When questioned about the rumor that the band has Justin Bieber’s phone number written on their amps, the bassist confirmed this.

“I can’t say particularly where we got it […] We found it through different connections. Hopefully he’s getting a lot of calls […] We always say to text him racy pictures.”

FIDLAR spends their unglamorous touring days driving in their van, listening to podcasts, playing shows and “sleeping on people’s floors, and eating shitty food ‘cause there’s nothing else.”

In essence, the band “[follows] no guidelines, we just do whatever we want. We have no one telling us what we need to be doing,” Schwartzel happily explained.

As the crowds continue to get larger while they grow in success, Schwartzel remarked, “I don’t think we were ever really grounded […] It comes down to making music we want to make, and playing music we want to play.”

As a final note, Schwartzel sends a message to all the ladies reading the article: “Max is single. He’s our drummer and he’s always interested. So if you come to a show, harass him.”


FIDLAR plays La Sala Rossa with Wavves on Saturday, April 6 at 7:00 p.m.


From Zeroes QC to heroes: the evolution of Suuns

With a new album, Images Du Futur, released March 5, Suuns are back in their hometown of Montreal with new bold, dark and dream-like melodies.

The band chose to name its new record after a ‘80s Montreal exhibit where new avant-garde technologies were showcased. “Not

Suuns play La Sala Rossa on Thursday, Apr. 4, 2013 at 10 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Press photo

necessarily that our music is futuristic, but it certainly is an attempt at creating something new,” explained Max Henry, the band’s bassist and keyboardist.

The new record represented an evident step in the band’s life. With more confidence and knowledge of their role, style and personality, the band explores greater depths and evolves into different styles. Throughout their work, they were able to understand and define themselves. “We approached it from a different perspective, we had a label, we were starting to know who we are,” said Henry.

With its robotic repetitions and electronic beats, the album conveys a certain alien feeling. In comparison to their first album, Zeroes QC, Henry explains that the band wanted to explore new musical territories. “The second record is maybe a little less fun than the first one, a bit more challenging. I think we’re exploring a lot more, maybe taking more chances,” he said.

Signed to the label Secretly Canadian, the band finds a new darkness in this album, with musical influences going from ‘60s german punk-rock, bands like Cans, Silver Apples and Clinic in particular, and classics like The Beatles, Paul McCartney and John Lennon.

“Our music has become a bit more nuanced and I like the idea that even when we play it now, there’s still some of it I don’t entirely grasp,” said Henry. “It’s cool to put something out there with confidence and discover more about it every time we play it.”

Brought together in 2006, the band formed by Henry, Ben Shemie, a vocalist and guitarist, Liam O’Neill, the drummer, and Joseph Yarmush, a guitarist and bassist, wasn’t initially named Suuns. The band was first called Zeroes, but when they got to sign with the label they were encouraged to change their name — another band called Zeroes already existed so it could have become problematic for their career.

“It took a while for us to decide, but Suuns means zero in Thai,” said Henry. “We liked Zeroes in the first place because it had a darkness to it, a certain edge. Slightly dark but not depressing and definitely not emo.”

The band recorded Images du Futur during last year’s student protests. The turmoil stimulated and affected them as Quebecers but they didn’t want their music to be politically involved.

“We’ve always been very proud of being Quebecers and even more so during that time,” he said. “It really made me want to read more about the history of Quebec and Montreal. The protests were on all of our minds but in my opinion, it’s not music’s place to engage in it.”

In their relationship with art, the members of the band are very multi-faceted. Not only do all of them like to read, but Yarmush and Shemie are also interested in photography and movie-making: Yarmush is in charge of doing all the press photos and Shemie directed all of their music videos.

In certain songs like “2020,” the music video adds really cool effects to the music and perfectly conveys the psychedelic, subconscious atmosphere of their new approach. The epileptic shots of the broken black and white lines and other symbols tearing through the screen combined with the slow melting guitar notes and Shemie’s soft whisper-like voice transport the viewer into the realms of the unknown.

The members of the band are currently enjoying their free time in Montreal and rehearsing for their upcoming tour across Europe, Canada and the U.S. “Playing abroad is somewhat easier,” said Henry. “It’s very exciting to play in Montreal, but a bit nerve-wracking because it’s where all your friends are. We’re definitely looking forward to it!”


Suuns play La Sala Rossa on Thursday, Apr. 4, 2013 at 10 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. 



Local Natives appreciate both work and play

Photo by Bryan Sheffield

What started out as a snapshot of the members of Local Natives climbing onto the roof of their practice space turned into the band’s cover art for their latest album Hummingbird.

“It almost happened accidentally,” said Ryan Hahn, the band’s guitarist and keyboardist. “We were just climbing on the roof of the rehearsal space and someone took a picture.”

The band mixed the photograph with the desktop background on one of their computers and haphazardly concocted the album cover for Hummingbird. “We just thought it was a really striking image,” said Hahn. “Matt [Frazier] and I do most of the graphic design and the rest of the band just kind of argue about it until they’re happy with it. It’s a healthy dysfunction.”

The band formed in 2005 in Orange County, Calif., their hometown. “We’ve always been obsessed with music from an early age,” said Hahn. “There was a healthy music scene growing up in California and we were into mostly punk stuff; loud, aggressive, fast music.”

Regardless of their earlier musical influences, Local Natives’ sound is not something that is easily classifiable under one specific genre and Hummingbird proves just that.

Although their debut album Gorilla Manor was praised for its youthful energetic sound, Local Natives have ventured off into new creative territory: the album has been reviewed as being much darker than their first. “The album goes deeper beneath the surface; in a lot of ways it’s more honest, more direct,” said Hahn.

“The image of a hummingbird kind of encapsulates the whole album,” he said. “It’s a little frail creature with hollow bones that also beats its wings a million times a second and is always on the move. We agreed that it really fit the rest of the album.”

The title of the album comes from a lyric in “Colombia”, arguably the most emotionally-charged track on the record, where vocalist and guitarist Kelcey Ayer pays tribute to his late mother.

“There’s a very personal meaning in it,” said Hahn. “It’s a really important emotional song for us, especially for Kelcey. The album is a lot more expanded, with more intimate moments.”

But despite the general tone on the album, the guys from Local Natives are anything but dark and serious. On the rare occasions where the band gets time off from rehearsing or touring, they jump on the opportunity to unwind.

“Whenever I can, I like to go to the beach and surf and hang out with friends,” said Hahn, adding that it was really important to them to stay active. They have also recently discovered the joys of ping pong.

“We’re actually trying to get a league going with other bands, since a lot of bands on tour actually already have ping pong,” laughed Hahn. “We toured with Arcade Fire and they have a team and they’re really really really good!”

Since the tour, Local Natives have been receiving the acknowledgment that the California band so rightly deserves. “We played the Latitude Festival in 2009 and it was our first festival, the first time we ever played in the UK and the first time we played overseas at all,” said Hahn. “We didn’t really expect anyone to be there for us, but we showed up and the tent was just full to the brim and people were just singing along. It was just one of those memorable moments that I think we’ll never really forget.”

This summer, Local Natives will play the Latitude Festival once again along with the Coachella Festival in California, the Governor’s Ball in New York and Bonnaroo in Tennessee; some of the most internationally renowned festivals.

Having recorded part of Hummingbird in Montreal, the guys are eager to play next here next week. “We had an amazing time and it was surprisingly not unbearably cold,” joked Hahn. “We just had so much fun.”


Local Natives play Le National with Superhumanoids on Friday, March 29 at 7:30 p.m. The show is sold out.




Parenthetical Girls is all about the nitty gritty details

Press photo

As the frontman of the audacious, theatrical, and visually striking Parenthetical Girls, Zac Pennington was refreshingly humble and grounded. Rattling off answers about his band, in which he plays alongside Amber W. Smith and Paul Alcott, Pennington managed to stay mentally afloat while wandering his surroundings looking for a store – a fuse had just blown during sound check.

“It’s always weird having these conversations because obviously, right now, I’m distracted in every capacity,” he said lightheartedly. “We have these 10 minutes to talk about stuff, and it’s very difficult to get to a place where it’s like we’re having a conversation rather than you asking me questions and me really awkwardly trying to answer.”

If it sounds like Pennington is familiar with the ins and outs of the ever-unpredictable interview process, it’s because he has now been on both sides of the telephone line: coinciding with the dawn of Parenthetical Girls was his stint as a music reporter.

“I got into writing largely because I had a relationship with music to begin with,” he said. “It was an easy thing to do as an offshoot of being involved with putting on shows and working on music.”

Having viewed the music world through a variety of artistic lenses, Pennington and his bandmates have confidently taken their image into their own hands. Based in Portland, the trio’s music videos supply eye-popping colours, sharp patterns, rich textures and a dash of the surreal. The final package digs its claws into the roots of the mind.

“The idea is for a vision of grandeur that’s maybe a little bit out of our reach,” said Pennington. “The concepts that we have created are supposed to work on their own, rather than to just comment on the concept of the [accompanying] song. They were supposed to be statements in and of themselves.”

While the videos are intended to be viewed and experienced from an artistic point of view, the lyrics supply the personal touches. More often than not, Pennington takes care of the songwriting, drawing inspiration from personal events and personal points of view. The rest of the music, of course, is collaboratively conceived.

As a precursor to their latest record, Privilege, Parenthetical Girls released the album in its entirety during a 15-month span in the form of five limited edition – think 500 copies per release – EPs. It was a rolling process, with each microcosm hitting the shelves as it was completed.

“The idea of a release series was as much a pragmatic decision as it was a creative one,” said Pennington. Typically slow and meticulous when making music, the prospect of having a couple of years to work on an album appealed to the band. “We were more comfortable working on the sort of tangents we might not otherwise consider were we working on a full length—and many of these experiments turned out to be some of the most gratifying pieces of the series.”

Following suit with their attention to aesthetic detail, each EP donned tailor-made artwork by Swedish artist Jenny Mörtsell. Aside from that, a series of short “commercial” videos as precursors to the Privilege releases. Directly inspired by Calvin Klein’s ‘80s campaign featuring Brooke Shields, they spoke to Pennington’s fascination with “the weirdly fetishized way they’ve been preserved for posterity—from distant televisions, to VHS, to transcodes onto the internet.”

Having released four albums and endless EPs and singles in the past 10 years, Parenthetical Girls boasts some steady output that has made for a progressive musical experience.

“The total lack of consistency in the band over course of its history has made for a fairly constant re-evaluation of what actually even constitutes ‘Parenthetical Girls’—every record that we’ve recorded has more or less been an entirely new band.”


Efterklang breathes new life into an old ghost town

Photo by Ramsus Weng Karlsen

It’s safe to say that Efterklang is the only band that eats instant oatmeal in the morning and then travels to an abandoned Russian coal mining town, all while wondering if they should have brought a shotgun along to protect themselves against the polar bears in the area.

The band is from Copenhagen and since forming in 2000, they’ve been mixing a unique cocktail of sound by drawing from a bunch of different genres. These include indie rock, pop, classical and electronic, with hints of soul music thrown in for good measure.

When it came to creating their new album Piramida, hanging around the cobblestone streets of Europe wasn’t enough to tickle their sense of inspiration. The band members were approached by Danish director Andreas Koefoed and shown photographs of a ‘ghost town’ on the island of Svalbard in Norway.

“We were mesmerized and instantly knew it had to be that location,” said bassist Rasmus Stolberg. Fifteen years ago, the coal mining community called Piramida was hurriedly abandoned by its 1,000 inhabitants. All the buildings and equipment are still standing and the health hazards associated with the decaying town didn’t stop Efterklang from using the area as their own personal playground of sound.

Andreas Koefoed filmed the men for a movie they made about their experience in Piramida as they experimented with new sounds – stomping, banging and yelling in different locations in the dangerous area.

Lead Vocalist Casper Clausen is shown climbing into a narrow pipe and landing in an eight-meter-high empty gasoline tank. He begins to sing and project his voice to the small opening at the top of the tank; the ensuing sound is appropriately chilling. The band was especially fascinated by new mediums they could find on the island that could introduce “several notes with different pitches,” said Stolberg. Most of the album was recorded on the island and the sounds they created can’t be found in a typical recording studio.

The ghost town also offered the band a new atmosphere and feeling which they were able to capture and translate into music. The men were overwhelmed by the sensation that people didn’t belong on the island. By looking around at the lifeless buildings, “you realize how young our species is and how incredibly old and powerful our planet is.”

The area also holds the most Northern piano in the world. Once used by the Piramida inhabitants for concerts, the grand piano still remains in one of the rooms of the town. Upon hearing this, Stolberg remarked on how being able to see and play this piano excited his boyish sense of adventure.

For the premiere of Piramida, the band was accompanied by an orchestra of 50 people at the Sydney Opera House building, designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon. The band members barely slept between rehearsals for a month before the premiere; the resulting show was an experience that “was simply incredible,” Stolberg said.

During the first performance of their song “Ghosts”, the men had massive grins on their faces as the orchestra slowly built the foundation of the song. As the song progressed and Clausen gently jumped in with his unique voice, the band began to feel a sense of “community and focus [with] everyone present in the room.”

Clausen referred to these moments as being “magical,” and Stolberg described how he was overcome with the sensation that “time and energy flows differently.” The band was brought back to their time spent in Piramida as they revisited the sounds and lyrics inspired by the ethereal area.

With one listen of the album, you can hear Efterklang overturning all the boundaries placed on sound and bringing to life the ghostly feel of the abandoned town of Piramida.


Efterklang plays Il Motore with Nightlands on Friday, March 22 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15.



Buke & Gase are rock, noise and everything in between

There’s only one band on the planet that knows how to work instruments such as the toe-bourine, the buke—which is a six-string ukelele—and the gase, a guitar/bass hybrid. This band is Buke & Gase, brainchild of Arone Dyer and Aron Sanchez, both of whom are Brooklyn natives. Their expertise is rooted in the fact that they came up with each of these instruments themselves, having turned once-commonplace music-makers into colossal innovations.

“[Sanchez] has a kick drum which is slightly enhanced,” explained Dyer. “It’s got a snare sound, a tambourine sound and a shaker sound so that when you hit the kick drum, it has more range.”

Buke & Gase has managed to remain a fairly percussion-centric duo without ever having to lay hands on a drum set. Instead of using the traditional setup, the band breaks the mold by using bells, the modified kick drum, their toe-bourine and an assortment of other instruments that have been modified to suit their desired sound. Even the band’s string instruments are “very percussive and we play rhythmic parts that add percussive drive to the music.”

Buke & Gase’s expertise is rooted in the fact that they came up with each of these instruments themselves, having turned once-commonplace music-makers into colossal innovations. (Press)

“We grew up in Brooklyn around bands like Lightning Bolt and all kinds of do-it-yourself small two-person bands,” said Sanchez. “I think that’s influenced the manner in which we make music, right up to creating instruments that allow us to be a two-person band that sounds huge, allowing us to be sonically powerful.”

Having met in 2000, the two wasted no time getting their musical careers up and running. Before they pioneered Buke & Gase six years ago, Dyer and Sanchez dabbled in electronic music together for some time, then played in a four-piece band called Hominid. For the entirety of their musical career, now more than ever, the duo has prided themselves on drawing inspiration from all over.

“We were influenced quite heavily when we were in Brooklyn by the other bands that were our peers,” said Dyer. “But the music that we like is not necessarily Brooklyn-based. Stylistically, we are very influenced by nigerian highlife. We like world music, classical, classic american rock, hip hop … anything, pretty much.”

For that reason, any given review of a Buke & Gase album or show will offer up an entirely unique and eclectic mash-up of terms in an attempt to file them under some form of quasi-genre. Cataloguing their style, however, is an unwelcome act in Dyer’s books.

“We like to not really describe it,” she said. “It’s good to get your own opinion. If you think about the instrumentation, it gives it a certain style; we play a string of instruments that could be classified as rock instruments.” They do come equipped with a kick drum, a guitar and bass sounds, but given that they have all been tweaked and modified, the resulting sound is equally abnormal.

“Usually when somebody asks me [to describe our sound], I tend to say, ‘I don’t know, listen to it and see what you think of it first before we discuss what it sounds like,’ so that they can get their own opinion.”

In 2009, the band appeared as a guest on Radiolab, a radio program also available as a podcast produced by a company based out of New York. According to Sanchez, their appearance on the show gave Buke & Gase a ton of invaluable exposure and since then, the band has never looked back.

Are they able to pinpoint one outstanding career-defining experience? “All of it,” said Sanchez.

Dyer laughed in agreement, adding, “We’ve been invited by several of our heroes to perform with them and each time it’s amazing […] we play with such a variety of other musicians and we’ve been featured in a variety of different types of shows from classical to rock. It’s never the same thing twice, that’s for sure.”

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